The Story of Mexico/Chapter 40

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The city of Mexico, after the departure of Maximilian for Querétaro, had remained tranquil awaiting events. The Emperor sent back immediately General Santiago Vidaurri, who had accompanied him out of the capital, with full powers to govern the city.

This man had been one of the chiefs of the liberal party, and had often fought, on the opposite side, both Márquez and Miramon. As governor of the state of Nueva Leon, he had brought its administration into such good order that it was an example to the rest of Mexico. Disgusted with anarchy, and disliking Juarez personally, he espoused the cause of Maximilian as the best chance for his country of regular government; yet he always remained a liberal, not joining the clerical party, and thus was distrusted by Miramon and the rest, who kept him away from the Emperor as much as they could. Nevertheless Maximilian, recognizing his worth and his capacity for organization, entrusted him with the charge of the capital. But Márquez, when he reached Mexico, after successfully evading the enemy around Querétaro, instead of sending back money and troops to succor that besieged place, assumed the position of lieutenant of the Empire, and proceeded to govern the capital. Vidaurri withdrew from the scene, and from that time was allowed no part in the affairs of the imperialists; yet he did not escape judgment from the liberals, and was shot, among the first examples of their government restored to power.

Márquez was intended for the same fate, but he kept in hiding, and succeeded later in escaping to the coast, where he embarked for Havana. He then returned to Mexico, after travelling abroad under an assumed name. He is described as a lively little man with black hair and sharp black eyes. He wore a full beard, which concealed a disfiguring scar on his cheek caused by a bullet wound. His cruelty in war won him the name of the "Mexican Alva," but that stern old campaigner better deserves the respect of posterity than such a namesake. Alva would not have left a besieged city to fall a prey to one enemy, while he led his troops to a futile encounter with another one more powerful than his own force.

The brilliant capture of Puebla by General Porfirio Diaz brought into prominence this name, which has since been of the greatest importance in the story of Mexico.

Puebla, after the departure of the French troops from the country, was left in the hands of General Noriega. It had been in the possession of the imperialists scarcely five years, and the courageous repulse of the French troops on the 5th of May, 1862, was still fresh in every Mexican mind, as indeed it is to-day, an inspiring example of their capacity for defending their homes. Yet the imperialists held the city for twenty-five days, in spite of the vigorous attack, at five separate points, by the liberals. Diaz himself, with two companions, was buried for a time underneath a falling roof, and thought to be lost, but they were rescued after a few moments without injury. It was General Diaz, with his troops, who took possession of the capital for the liberals on the 21st of June, 1867. Assuming military command, he at once introduced order into the city, providing corn and food for the hungry population, who stood in great need of it. No persecution visited the conquered imperialists, with the exception of the active leaders, who were condemned to be shot or imprisoned.

The vigorous action of the liberal government towards Maximilian and the imperialist generals, however, impressed the country with its inflexible determination, as well as its power to execute its intent. The Republic reinstated upon the ruins of so brief an attempt at monarchy, Mexican rule, after the bold effort to ingraft upon the country a foreign potentate, proved to have a firmer grasp upon the country than in all its previous essays.

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