Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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OCAMPO, Melchor, Mexican statesman, born in Valladolid (now Morelia) about 1815; died in Tepeji, 3 June, 1861. His primary education was obtained in Mexico, and he finished his studies in the Seminary of Valladolid, where he was Graduated in law. He returned to Mexico to practise, but soon gave himself entirely to the study of botany, chemistry, mad agriculture, in which he acquired a reputation both at home and abroad. In 1843 he was elected to congress from his state, and in the elections of 1846 he was chosen by unanimous vote governor of his native state of Michoacan. During his administration he made numerous improvements and re established also the civil college of San Nicolas Obispo. He resigned, 29 March, 1849, and retired to the country, but was re-elected, 14 June, 1852, occupying the state executive till 24 January, 1853, when his repeated resignation was accepted by the legislature with a unanimous vote of thanks for his eminent services. He retired to his country-seat, Pomoca (anagram of Ocampo), but, after the arrival of Santa-Anna and his assumption of the dictatorship, Ocampo was arrested in June, 1853, transported imprisoned in the fortress of San Juan de Ulua until a vessel was ready to take him as an exile to the United States. When the revolution of Ayutla had triumphed, Ocampo was appointed by President Alvarez (q. v.) chief of his cabinet and secretary of state in Ocober, 1855, but resigned very soon, as he was opposed to the policy of the secretary of war, Comonfort. He occupied a seat in congress, and took part in the discussion of the constitution of 1857. After the fall of Comonfort he was appointed by Juarez (q. v.) secretary of state and acting secretary of war in January, 1858, and accompanied him to Veto Cruz, where he continued in the state department till August, 1859, taking part in the promulgation of the famous reform laws of 12 July, 1859. In January, 1860, he was again appointed secretary of state, but soon he disagreed with Juarez regarding the decree of amnesty, and, together with Gonzalez Ortega, La Llave, and Lafuente, he resigned, retiring to his farm, Pomoca. He was since led out for vengeance by the reactionary party, and in the last days of May a party under command of Lindoro Cajigas appeared at Pomoca. Mistaking a friend of Ocampo's for the owner of the estate, they took him prisoner, and he remained silent to save his friend, when Ocampo appeared, and gave himself up. He was taken on foot as a captive to Tepeji del Rio, delivered to Zuloaga and Marquez (q. v.), and shot by order of the latter, notwithstanding the entreaties of many influential persons at the capital, including the French minister.
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