Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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LAFRAGUA, Jose Maria (lah-frah'-guah), Mexican statesman, born in Puebla, 2 April, 1813; died in the city of Mexico, 15 November, 1875. He entered Caroline college in 1824, and in 1835 was admitted to the bar and appointed professor of civil law and secretary of the academy of jurisprudence. He also devoted himself to politics and literature, contributing to various journals. In 1837 he was elected by the Federal party of Puebla representative to Mexico, took part in the direction of several political papers, and in 1842 he was chosen a deputy to the constituent congress. In consequence of Ms opposition to Santa Anna he was arrested, with others, on 2 May, 1843, but, after six weeks' imprisonment, set at liberty in consequence of an amnesty. He continued his opposition to the dictator, and in consequence of a political speech was imprisoned again; but, to avoid public indignation, Santa Anna released him on the following day, and even offered him as satisfaction the place of minister to Spain, which Lafragua refused. He was secretary of the chamber of deputies when congress was dissolved by General Paredes; but after the triumph of the revolution of the "Ciudadela," in August, 1846, he was appointed by General Salas councillor of state, and in October secretary of foreign relations, which place he occupied until Gomez Farias assumed the executive in December. Santa Anna offered him a seat in the cabinet in 1847; but he refused. After the conclusion of peace with the United States he was elected senator, and, declining the appointment of minister to Paris and Rome, continued in the senate till the dissolution of congress in 1853 by Vice-President Ceballos. Foreseeing the consequences of Santa Anna's return to power, Lafragua retired from public life and favored the plan of Ayutla. General Alvarez offered him the government of Puebla and the Spanish mission; but he refused, and on the accession of General Comonfort the latter appointed Lafragua, in December, 1855, secretary of the interior, and he was one of Comonfort's most faithful advisers during his administration. In February, 1857, he was sent as minister to Madrid, and, after the fall of Comonfort in January, 1858, he continued to represent the Liberal government of Juarez, protesting against the admission of a minister from Miramon till he was relieved in 1860 at his own request. After travelling through Europe and the United States, he returned to Mexico in November, 1861, and remained there during the intervention and the empire, but firmly refused a seat in the cabinet, which was several times tendered him by Maximilian. On 20 June, 1867, he was commissioned by General Marquez to treat with Diaz about the surrender of Mexico; but, before he could leave, the city was attacked from all sides and occupied next day. On 3 August, Lafragua was appointed professor of history and chronology and member of the commission to form the civil code, and in 1868 he was elected member of the supreme court of justice and director of the national library, and commissioned to form the penal code. In June, 1872, he was appointed secretary of foreign relations, resigning his seat on the supreme bench, and, after the death of Juarez in July, he presented his resignation together with the other ministers; but it was not accepted by Lerdo de Tejada, and when congress elected him again to the supreme court, 7 December, 1873, that body allowed him to continue as secretary of foreign relations, so that he held both posts till his death.
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