|Birth Day:||March 21, 1806|
|Death Date:||Jul 18, 1872 (age 66)|
As per our current Database, Benito Juarez died on Jul 18, 1872 (age 66).
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He held his first major political position as the Governor of Oaxaca in 1847.
At this critical time, Juárez was also helped by a lay Franciscan and bookbinder, Antonio Salanueva, who was impressed by the youth's intelligence and desire for learning. Salanueva arranged for his admission to the city's seminary so that he could train to become a priest. His earlier education was rudimentary, but he soon began studying Latin, and completed the secondary curriculum while still too young to be ordained. But, realizing he had no calling to become a priest, Juárez began studying law at the Institute of Sciences and Arts, founded in 1827. It was a center of liberal intellectual life in Oaxaca, and he graduated in 1834.
Even prior to his graduation, Juárez sought political office, and was elected to the Oaxaca city council in 1831. After practicing law for several years, in 1841 he was appointed as a civil judge.
Following Juárez's graduation as a lawyer in 1834, law practice, and service as a civil judge in 1841, he became part of the Oaxaca state government, led by liberal governor Antonio León (1841–1845). He became a prosecutor in the Oaxaca state court and was elected to the state legislature in 1845.
On October 31, 1843, when he was in his late 30s, Juárez married Margarita Maza, the adoptive daughter of his sister's patron. Margarita was 20 years younger than the judge. Her father Antonio Maza Padilla was from Genoa and her mother Petra Parada Sigüenza was Mexican, of Spanish descent. They were part of Oaxaca's upper-class society. With the marriage, Juárez gained social standing. Margarita Maza accepted his proposal and said of Juárez, "He is very homely, but very good."
Juárez was subsequently elected to the federal legislature, where he supported Valentín Gómez Farías, who instigated liberal reforms including limitations on the power of the Catholic Church. With the return to the presidency of Antonio López de Santa Anna in 1847, Juárez returned to his practice in Oaxaca.
He was elected governor of the state of Oaxaca, serving from 1847 to 1852. During his tenure as governor, Juárez supported the war effort against the U.S. in the Mexican–American War. Recognizing that the war was lost, he refused Santa Anna's request to regroup and raise new forces. This, as well as his objections to the corrupt military dictatorship of Santa Anna, resulted in his going into exile in New Orleans in 1853, where he worked in a cigar factory. His wife sent him some of her own money there to help with his support. Other Santa Anna opponents were also in exile there, including Melchor Ocampo of Michoacan, who was fiercely anticlerical.
Juárez and Maza had twelve children together, three boys and nine girls, including twins María de Jesús and Josefa, born in 1854. Two boys and three girls died in early childhood. Their only surviving son was Benito Luis Narciso Juárez Maza, b. 29 October 1852. Although he later married a French woman, María Klerian, he and his wife had no children. He was a disappointment, good neither at business nor politics. Although he was appointed as governor of Oaxaca, his biographers concur that he was not a good administrator. Descendants of Juárez-Maza were born through the daughters' families, and the paternal surname was lost.
In 1854, Juárez helped draft the liberals' Plan of Ayutla, a document calling for Santa Anna's being deposed and for a convention to draft a new constitution. Faced with growing opposition, Santa Anna was forced to resign in 1855.
With Santa Anna's resignation, Juárez returned to Mexico and became part of the activist liberales (Liberals). They formed a provisional government under General Juan Álvarez, inaugurating the period known as La Reforma, or Liberal Reform. Juárez served as Minister of Justice and ecclesiastical affairs. During this time, he drafted the law named after him, the Juárez Law, which declared all citizens equal before the law, and restricted the privileges (fueros) of the Catholic Church and the Mexican army. President Álvarez signed the draft into law in 1855.
The new liberal Constitution of 1857 was promulgated and the new President, Ignacio Comonfort, appointed Juárez as Minister of Government in November 1857. He was elected as President of the Supreme Court of Justice, an office that virtually put its holder as the successor to the President of the Republic. Conservatives led by General Félix María Zuloaga, with the backing of the military and the clergy and under the slogan Religión y Fueros (Religion and Privileges), launched a revolt under the Plan of Tacubaya on 17 December 1857. Comonfort sought to placate the conservative rebels by appointing several conservatives to the Cabinet, dissolving the Congress, and implementing most of the Plan of Tacubaya. Juárez, Ignacio Olvera, and many other liberal deputies and ministers were arrested. The actions did not go far enough for the rebels, and on 11 January 1858, Zuloaga demanded Comonfort's resignation. Comonfort re-established the Congress, and liberated all prisoners, before resigning as President. The conservative forces proclaimed Zuloaga as President on 21 January.
Under the terms of the 1857 Constitution, the President of the Supreme Court of Justice became interim President of Mexico until a new election could be held. Juárez was acknowledged as president by liberals on 15 January 1858 and assumed leadership of the Liberal side of the civil war known as the War of the Reform (Guerra de Reforma), (1858–60). During this war, Mexico had rival governments of the liberals under Juárez, in a constitutional succession, and the rebellious conservatives under Félix María Zuloaga.
On 4 May 1858, Juárez arrived in Veracruz where the government of Manuel Gutiérrez Zamora was stationed with General Ignacio de la Llave. His wife and children were waiting for his arrival on the dock of the Veracruz’s port, along with a large part of the population that had flooded the pier to greet him.
Juárez lived many months in Veracruz without incident until conservative General Miguel Miramón’s attack on the port on March 30, 1859. On April 6, Juárez received a diplomatic representative of the United States Government: Robert Milligan McLane. Following this visit, Juárez's government and the US signed a treaty, the McLane-Ocampo Treaty, in December 1859. President James Buchanan was unable to secure ratification of the treaty by the U.S. Senate.
On 12 July 1859, Juárez decreed the first regulations of the "Law of Nationalization of the Ecclesiastical Wealth." This enactment prohibited the Catholic Church from owning properties in Mexico. Because of Juárez's Law of Nationalization, the Catholic Church and the regular army supported the Conservatives in the Reform War. On the other hand, the Liberals had the support of several state governments in the north and central-west of the country, as well as that of President Buchanan's government.
The failure of the U.S. to ratify the treaty meant that Mexico's sovereignty was not later undermined by giving free passage to the U.S. across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which Juárez had agreed to. But, under his leadership, Mexico received aid from the US that enabled the liberals to overcome the conservatives' initial military advantage. Juárez's government successfully defended Veracruz from assault twice during 1860, and recaptured Mexico City on 1 January 1861.
But, after two groups of conservatives ambushed and killed major liberal politicians Melchor Ocampo and later Santos Degollado in 1861, the liberals were outraged. Juárez took "extreme measures" to deal with the conservatives. After the scandal of Ocampo's murder, the liberal-majority Congress gave Juárez the money and power that he needed to defeat the conservatives.
After the defeat of the Conservatives on the battlefield, in March 1861 elections were held and Juárez was elected President in his own right under the Constitution of 1857. However, the Liberals' celebrations of 1861 were short-lived. The war had severely damaged Mexico's infrastructure and crippled its economy. Although the Conservatives had been defeated, they did not disappear, and the Juárez government had to respond to pressures from these factions. He was forced to grant amnesty to captured Conservative guerrillas still resisting the Juárez government, despite their executions of Ocampo and Degollado.
Juárez's government also faced international dangers. In view of the government's desperate financial straits, Juárez canceled repayments of interest on foreign loans taken out by the defeated conservatives. Spain, Britain and France, angry over unpaid Mexican debts, sent a joint expeditionary force that seized the Veracruz Customs House in December 1861. Spain and Britain soon withdrew. They realized that the French Emperor Napoleon III intended to overthrow the Juárez government and establish a Second Mexican Empire, with the support of remaining Conservatives. Thus began the French invasion in 1861 and the outbreak of an even longer war, with Liberals attempting to oust the foreign invaders and their Conservative allies and save the Republic.
Republican forces under Ignacio Zaragoza won an initial victory over the monarchists on 5 May 1862, the Battle of Puebla, celebrated annually as Cinco de Mayo, forcing the French to retreat to the coast for a year. But the French advanced again in 1863 and captured Mexico City.
Juárez and his elected government fled the capital and became a government in exile, with little power or territorial control. Juárez headed north, first to San Luis Potosí, then to the arid northern city of El Paso del Norte, present-day Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and finally to the capital of the state, Chihuahua City, where he set up his cabinet. There he remained for the next two and a half years. Meanwhile, Maximilian von Habsburg, younger brother of Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, was proclaimed Emperor as Maximilian I of Mexico on 20 April 1864, with the backing of Napoleon III and a group of Mexican conservatives.
Before Juárez fled, Congress granted him an emergency extension of his presidency. It went into effect in 1865, when his term expired, and lasted until 1867, when his forces defeated the last of Maximilian's forces.
Juárez's wife, Margarita Maza, and their children spent the invasion in exile in New York, where she met several times with U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who received her as the First Lady of Mexico. The careers of Juárez and Abraham Lincoln have been likened, because they were two presidents who shared humble social origins, a law career, a rapidly ascending political career in their home states, and a presidency that began under the auspices of a civil war that made long-lasting reform a necessity. But they never met nor exchanged correspondence. Following the end of the American Civil War and Lincoln's assassination, Andrew Johnson succeeded to the US presidency. He demanded that the French evacuate Mexico and imposed a naval blockade in February 1866.
Faced with US opposition to a French presence and a growing threat on the European mainland from Prussia, French troops began pulling out of Mexico in late 1866. Maximilian's liberal views had cost him support from Mexican conservatives as well. In 1867, the last of the Emperor's forces were defeated.
Maximilian was sentenced to death by a military court, a retaliation for Maximilian's earlier orders for the execution of republican soldiers (although some historians point to the fact that the original "Black Decree" was from Juárez – who had people executed, without trial, for "helping" his enemies, whereas Maximilian often pardoned people who had fought against him). Despite national and international pleas for amnesty, Juárez refused to commute the sentence. Maximilian was executed by firing squad on 19 June 1867 at Cerro de las Campanas in Querétaro. His last words had been "¡Viva México!". His body was returned to Vienna for burial.
In 1867, the liberals' former nemesis, General Antonio López de Santa Anna and President of the Republic multiple times, sought to return to Mexico from exile. The U.S. had pledged to support Juárez, and prevented Santa Anna from disembarking in Veracruz, his home region and political base. Veracruz was still in French imperial hands when Santa Anna attempted to land in June 1867, and the possibility that he might liberate the port from them was a distinct possibility. This could have paved the way for a political comeback threatening Juárez. Juárez's forces diverted the general, who landed in Sisal, Yucatan. He was arrested before a military court on 14 July 1867.
Juárez began instituting major reforms, which had constitutional force with the re-establishment of republican government. One such reform was in education. An elite preparatory school was founded in Mexico City in 1868, the National Preparatory School.
He was accused of being a traitor to Mexico, and Juárez sought the use of the law of 25 January 1862 that mandated death for traitors, a fate for Maximilian and two of his generals. The military tribunal decided that Santa Anna should be sentenced to eight years of further exile. Juárez had been expecting a sentence of death, and was proceeding to have all of Santa Anna's landed property confiscated and sold off. Juárez issued a general amnesty for all political opponents in October 1870, but explicitly excluded Santa Anna. The general responded angrily, listing his many heroic military deeds for his homeland, asking contemptuously where the civilian Juárez was then, and calling him a "dark Indian," a "hyena," and "a symbol of cruelty." But only after Juárez died in office was Santa Anna able to return to Mexico.
Their ethnically mixed marriage was unusual at the time, but it is not often noted in standard biographies. Their marriage lasted until Margarita's death from cancer in 1871.
Juárez ran for re-election in 1871 and opposition candidate, liberal General Porfirio Díaz, issued the Plan of la Noria call to arms against him. Juárez's enemies joined Díaz's revolt for their own reasons. The 1871 election was thrown to congress to decide, and since it was packed with his supporters, Juárez prevailed, despite fraud charges and widespread controversy.
Juárez died of a heart attack on July 18, 1872, aged 66, while reading a newspaper at his desk in the National Palace in Mexico City. He was succeeded by Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, the head of the Supreme Court and a close political ally.
The period following the expulsion of the French and up to the revolt of Porfirio Díaz in 1876 are now commonly known in Mexico as the Restored Republic. The period includes the last years of the Juárez presidency and, following his death in office in 1872, that of fellow civilian politician Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada. Juárez did not leave power following the end of the French invasion. He won the presidency in 1867, and immediately requested and obtained special powers from Congress to rule by decree.
Currently, Benito Juarez is 216 years, 8 months and 12 days old. Benito Juarez will celebrate 217th birthday on a Tuesday 21st of March 2023.
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