Benito Juarez

Benito Juarez

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Benito Juárez was born to an indigenous family in San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, in 1806; during most of his childhood, he only spoke Zapotec. In the city of Oaxaca, he lived with his sister who was a servant at the house of Don Antonio Maza. He studied at the Santa Cruz Seminary, the only secondary school in Oaxaca.




Benito Juárez later studied Law at the Instituto de Ciencias y Artes. He became a member of Oaxaca Town Council in 1831, and a local congressional representative in 1833. For some time, he worked as a lawyer, defending indigenous communities. After General Paredes Arrillaga was removed from the presidency, Juárez became a federal representative, and was responsible for approving the loan that Gómez Farías had requested from the Church (1847) to finance the war with the United States of America.

As Governor of his home state (1847), Juárez sought to establish a balanced economy and carried out numerous public works: roads, the reconstruction of the Government Palace, the foundation of high schools; he commissioned a geographic chart and a map of the city of Oaxaca; he reorganized the National Guard and left the Treasury with a surplus.

When Santa Anna returned to power, many liberals, including Juárez, were expelled from Mexico. Juárez went to New Orleans, where he continued his political activities as he did different jobs to make a living. Meanwhile, the Ayutla Plan was proclaimed in Mexico; this document urged that Santa Anna no longer be recognized as president.

After Santa Anna had fallen from power, Juan Alvarez became President and appointed Juárez Minister of Justice and Public Education (1855). In this position, Juárez issued the Law on the Administration of Justice and the Organic Law on the Tribunals of the Nation, of Districts and of Territories (the Juárez Law), which abolished the
so-called fueros or privileges enjoyed by the military and by members of the clergy, over and above all other people. Juárez was then named Governor of Oaxaca; he called elections, and was subsequently reelected.

He proclaimed the Constitution of 1857 in his state. He was named Minister of the Interior (1857), and was later elected President of the Supreme Court of Justice during the government of President Comonfort. The President refused to recognize the 1857 Constitution; he then promoted a coup d'état and imprisoned various people, including Juárez. The measures implemented by Comonfort led to the Reform War.

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Benito Juarez Essay

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Upon his liberation (January 11, 1858), Juárez assumed the Presidency by legal disposition in Guanajuato. In July 1859, and with the support of the liberals, he issued the Reform Laws which declared the independence of the State from the Church; the law on civil marriages and registration; the law on cemeteries, and the transferal of Church property to the Nation.




The Reform War ended with the triumph of the liberals, and Benito Juárez was constitutionally elected to continue as President (June 15, 1861). As a result of the French Intervention, in May 1863, he was obliged to leave Mexico City, and continued to govern from different places in Mexico. He returned to the capital city on July 15, 1867, after Maximilian had been tried and executed.

Due to his protection of human liberties, which served as an example for other Latin American countries, Benito Juárez was proclaimed Outstanding Patriot of the Americas.

After the triumph of the Republic, he gave a famous speech in which he stated: "Mexicans: let us now pledge all our efforts to obtain and consolidate the benefits of peace. Under its auspices, the protection of the laws and of the authorities will be sufficient for all the inhabitants of the Republic. May the people and the government respect the rights of all. Between individuals, as between nations, peace means respect for the rights of others".
"Let us hope that after the lesson learned through the prolonged and painful experience undergone by our communities during the war, that we Mexicans will cooperate with the welfare and prosperity of the Nation, which may only be obtained through unfailing respect for the law, and with complete obedience to the authorities elected by the people".

In October 1867, Benito Juárez was reelected President of the Republic. He spent his time organizing the economic situation of the country, he reduced the size of the army, organized an educational reform, ordered and end to military uprisings, and sought to overcome the division of the liberals. He was always respectful of the organization of workers and artisans.


Benito Juárez was reelected as President for the last time in 1871. He died on July 18, 1872.
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