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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Benito Pablo Juarez

JUAREZ, Benito Pablo (wah'-reth), president of Mexico, born in San Pablo Guelatao, Oajaca, 21 March, 1806; died in Mexico, 18 July, 1872. His parents, of pure Indian race, died when he was scarcely four years old, and, although they had left a modest inheritance, the boy grew up in the house of an uncle without learning to read and write or to speak Spanish correctly. But at the age of twelve a desire for knowledge seized him, and he went to Oajaca, where Antonio Salanueva, a former Franciscan monk, took him under his protection and taught him the elementary branches, placing him in 1821 in the seminary of that city, where he made rapid progress and was graduated in 1827. He now abandoned theology for the study of law at the new college, where from 1829 till 1831 he held the chair of experimental physics, and was admitted to the bar in 1834. He had been elected a member of the board of aldermen in 1831, and in 1833 was deputy to the state assembly. He was imprisoned for a short time in 1836, in consequence of an abortive rebellion against the conservative government, appointed judge of the civil court in 1842, and in 1845 secretary to the governor, General Leon, but soon resigned and was elected prosecutor of the superior court, which place he lost in the same year by the revolution of Paredes. After the counter-revolution of General Salas in 1846, the state of Oajaea restarted its sovereignty, and a junta of the principal citizens put the executive power into the hands of a triumvirate, composed of Jose Maria Arteaga, Fernandez del Campo, and Juarez. which lasted till the restoration of the federal constitution of 1824. Arteaga was chosen governor, and Juarez sent as delegate to the constituent congress, where he supported with vigor the liberal policy of the acting president, Gomez-Farias, and helped to negotiate a loan on church property to defray the expenses of the war against the United States. When Santa Anna dissolved the congress at the end of the year, Juarez returned to Oajaca, and, as Arteaga had resigned, he was elected in 1847 constitutional governor During the war with the United States he took energetic measures for the national defence, and after the destruction of the Oajaca division under General Leon at Molino del Rey, raised new forces, and in a few days forwarded three battalions and a field battery to the seat of war. After the occupation of Mexico by the United States forces Santa Anna appeared with an escort at Tehuacan, intending to go to Oajaca; but Juarez, fearing his schemes, sent orders to Teotitlan to prevent his passage, and after a short time Santa Anna abandoned the presidency. In 1849 Juarez was re-elected governor for three years, and soon Oajaca became under his administration the model state of the federation. He introduced many reforms and managed the finances so honestly and skilfully that he anticipated all the contributions to the national government, liquidated the state debt of eighteen years' standing, and on retiring from office in August, 1852, left in the treasury a cash surplus of $50,000. He was then elected director of the Institute for science and arts, and resumed the practice of law; but when, in consequence of the revolution of Jalisco, Santa Anna returned to power in April, 1853, one of his first acts was to revenge himself on Juarez by ordering his arrest, imprisonment in the castle of Ulna, and final expatriation Juarez remained for two years in New Orleans, suffering great privations; but when he learned of the favorable progress of the revolution of Ayutla against Santa Anna, he joined General Alvarez, the commander of the revolutionary forces in Acapulco, in July, 1855, and followed him to the capital. When Alvarez was elected president on 4 October, he appointed Juarez minister of justice and religion, and the latter proposed and procured the passage of a bill for the abolition of the special clerical and military courts, under which the clergy and the army had practically enjoyed immunity from the laws for a long time. When Comonfort succeeded Alvarez as president, 11 December, 1855, fearing Juarez's influence, he appointed him governor of Oajaca, in order to remove him from the cabinet. Here Juarez improved education and finances, sanctioned the civil and criminal code, and in September, 1857, was elected by an overwhelming majority constitutional governor. But at the same time he had been chosen at the general elections president of the supreme court of justice, which, according to the new constitution, is equivalent to the vice presidency of the nation. In October, Comonfort was forced by the voice of the Liberal press to appoint Juarez secretary of the interior, and his presence in the cabinet was almost the only support of the president, whose conservative inclinations had already begun to cause suspicion. When the latter finally joined the church party, and the revolt of Tacubaya began on 17 December, Juarez, who tried to preserve order, was imprisoned in the government palace. But the revolutionists did not recognize Comonfort's authority, and the latter tried too late to obtain the support of the Liberals by setting Juarez free on 11 January, 1858. After the occupation of Mexico by Miramon and Osollo, Comonfort retired to Vera Cruz and Juarez to Guanajuato, whence he issued a manifesto on 19 January, assuming the executive in virtue of his office as chief justice, and formed a cabinet, his government being recognized by the states. Unable to oppose the reactionary forces, he had to transfer the seat of government first to Guadalajara, then to Colima, and finally, by way of Panama and New Orleans, to Vera Cruz, where he arrived, 4 May, 1858. Here, protected by the troops under the governor, Gutierrez Zamora, he installed his government, which was recognized by the United States in April, 1859, and on 12 and 13 June of that year he issued laws abolishing religious orders and confiscating all church property for the benefit of the nation After the final defeat of General Miramon, Juarez entered the capital on 11 January, 1861, and in the general elections of March was chosen constitutional president over Miguel Lerdo de Tejada. In consequence of the law that was sanctioned by congress, 17 July, 1861, ordering the suspension for two years of payments on account of the foreign debt and of the diplomatic conventions, the alliance of intervention was signed in London on 31 October between England, France, and Spain, and on 8 December the allied forces reached Vera Cruz. But Juarez sent Manuel Doblado to treat with the foreign plenipotentiaries in La Soledad, and by his promise to protect the interests of foreign debtors obtained the rupture of the tripartite convention at Orizaba, 9 April, 1862, and the British and Spanish forces evacuated the country, while France, under the pretext of protecting French residents, declared war against Juarez on 16 April. After the capture of Puebla by General Forey, 17 May, 1863, the Republican government dissolved congress, and evacuated the capital on 31 May, and Juarez, on 10 June, established his government in San Luis Potosi. He was obliged to retire before the advancing French troops on 22 December to Saltillo; but being informed that the governor of Coahuila and Leon, Santiago Vidaurri, was treating with the French, Juarez went to Monterey. He was not recognized by Vidaurri, who offered armed resistance; but, not being sustained by the citizens of those states, the latter had to fly to Mexico, and Juarez established his government in Monterey. On 15 August he had to retreat from that, city before the imperialist forces under General Quiroga, and after some detentions at Viezea, Mapimi, and Nazas, to organize the rest of the Republican forces from the states of Zacateeas, Durango, and Chihuahua, he arrived in the latter city on 12 October He had at last to withdraw from Chihuahua, 5 August, 1865, and on the 15th of that month, accompanied by twenty-two of his most trusted friends, who were afterward called in Mexico the "immaculates," he established his government on the United States frontier in Paso del Norte Meanwhile, Juarez's term of office having expired on 30 November, General Gonzalez Ortega, as nominal president of the supreme court, which place he had practically abandoned long before, claimed the executive power; but Juarez, foreseeing the disastrous effects of a change of government under such circumstances, declared his term of office extended until constitutional elections in time of peace could take place, and was sustained by the few Republican authorities that remained in the northern states. To avoid the appearance of abandoning the national soil, which, according to the constitution, would cause his forfeiture of the presidency, he frequently refused friendly invitations from the commander of the United States troops at Fort Bliss to visit him. On 20 November, 1865, when Chihuahua had been evacuated by the French troops, Juarez transferred his government to that city, but had to retreat before the returning enemy, on 9 December, to Paso del Norte, arriving on 18 December Early in June, 1866, the Republican arms obtained the first decided success. Chihuahua was finally evacuated by the Imperialists, and on the 17th Juarez established his government again in that city. Henceforth the tide of war turned in favor of the Republican arms, the northeastern states were gradually wrested from the Imperialists, and as the victorious army of Escobedo advanced southward. Juarez transferred his government, on 26 December, 1866, to Durango, and on 22 January, 1867, to Zacatecas, where, on 27 January, he barely escaped falling into the hands of Miramon's forces, and was obliged to fly to Sombrerete. After Miramon's defeat at San Jaeinto, Juarez finally established himself in San Luis Potosi early in February, while Maximilian's forces began to concentrate at Queretaro. After the fall of Maximilian and the capture of Mexico by Diaz on 21 June, Juarez entered the capital again on 5 July, 1867. After the execution of Vidaurri without trial, milder counsels prevailed, and the Imperialist chiefs and political followers, who had been imprisoned to the number of over 200, were regularly judged by the courts, and only nineteen executed, among them General O'Horan and General Severo Castillo. On 14 August, Juarez called for general elections. Congress met in December, and on 25 December proclaimed Juarez elected constitutional president over Porfirio Diaz. His term of office was disturbed by the constant revolutionary attempts of Diaz, Garcia de la Cadena, Negrete, and others. Even Santa Anna invaded the republic, and was caught and sentenced, but escaped execution When the electoral campaign of 1871 approached, Juarez was advised by his best friends to decline a re-election; but, either owing to his ambition or because he thought his presence in the government necessary for the good of the nation in an abnormal period, he accepted the candidacy against Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada and Porfirio Diaz. Congress met on 16 September, 1871, and on 12 October, Juarez was declared re-elected, as the votes of the opposition were divided between Lerdo and Diaz. This re-election, although at that time it was permitted by the constitution, was generally unpopular, and in consequence there were numerous revolutionary attempts. Diaz proclaimed the plan de la Noria, and numerous officers pronounced against the government, including Trevifio in Monterey, Garcia de la Cadena in Aguas Calientes, Donato Guerra in Zaeatecas, and Martinez in Coahuila. With indomitable energy Juarez confronted every new attempt with new military forces, notwithstanding the complete exhaustion of the treasury, the military alone being paid; and even repeated reverses could not discourage him when, after a short illness, he died near midnight of 18 July of heart disease, or, as some have hinted, of poison This extraordinary man has been judged differently by admirers and enemies. Although only of medium talent and defective education, he supplied these defects by perception and judgment, and his distinct characteristics were a will of iron and the cold impassibility of his native Indian race in the presence of danger. He has been accused of cruelty for not commuting the sentence of death of Maximilian and his principal followers; but it must be remembered that, according to Juarez's view, a terrifying example was needed to discourage forever future attempts against the national integrity, and after the first and perhaps necessary executions, only those persons that were guilty, of common crime, or officers deserting active service, were condemned to death. He was a constant enemy of the retrograde church party and heartily hated by its members, and while he could pardon his political opponents, he followed with relentless hate his personal enemies, and even those political followers who by chance had offended him. His supreme and redeeming quality was his thorough honesty, and perhaps in this character alone he deserves the name of the Mexican Washington, which some have bestowed on him in his country. His funeral took place on 22 July, 1872. The body, after lying in state at the government palace for two days, was carried in procession to the cemetery of San Fernando, where a group in white Carrara marble has been erected, of which the accompanying picture is an illustration. It is the work of the brothers Isla of the city of Mexico.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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