1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Juarez, Benito Pablo

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JUAREZ, BENITO PABLO (1806–1872), president of Mexico, was born near Ixtlan, in the state of Oajaca, Mexico, on the 21st of March 1806, of full Indian blood. Early left in poverty by the death of his father, he received from a charitable friar a good general education, and afterwards the means of studying law. Beginning to practise in 1834, Juarez speedily rose to professional distinction, and in the stormy political life of his time took a prominent part as an exponent of liberal views. In 1832 he sat in the state legislature; in 1846 he was one of a legislative triumvirate for his native state and a deputy to the republican congress, and from 1847 to 1852 he was governor of Oajaca. Banished in 1853 by Santa Anna, he returned to Mexico in 1855, and joined Alvarez, who, after Santa Anna’s defeat, made him minister of justice. Under Comonfort, who then succeeded Alvarez, Juarez was governor of Oajaca (1855–57), and in 1857 chief justice and secretary of the interior; and, when Comonfort was unconstitutionally replaced by Zuloaga in 1858, the chief justice, in virtue of his office, claimed to be legal president of the republic. It was not, however, till the beginning of 1861 that he succeeded in finally defeating the unconstitutional party and in being duly elected president by congress. His decree of July 1861, suspending for two years all payments on public debts of every kind, led to the landing in Mexico of English, Spanish and French troops. The first two powers were soon induced to withdraw their forces; but the French remained, declared war in 1862, placed Maximilian upon the throne as emperor, and drove Juarez and his adherents to the northern limits of the republic. Juarez maintained an obstinate resistance, which resulted in final success. In 1867 Maximilian was taken at Querétaro, and shot; and in August Juarez was once more elected president. His term of office was far from tranquil; discontented generals stirred up ceaseless revolts and insurrections; and, though he was re-elected in 1871, his popularity seemed to be on the wane. He died of apoplexy in the city of Mexico on the 18th of July 1872. He was a statesman of integrity, ability and determination, whose good qualities are too apt to be overlooked in consequence of his connexion with the unhappy fate of Maximilian.