Don Simon Bolivar Don Benito Juarez Don Jose Marti Don Jose de San Martin Don Bernardo O'Higgins

Don Benito Juarez (1806-1872)

Benito Juarez

Mexico's national hero and its first president of Indian descent was Don Benito Juarez. During his years in the Government, he succeeded in undermining the power of the Roman Catholic Church and the wealthy landlords in order to make Mexico a constitutional democracy.

Don Benito Juarez was born at San Pablo Guelatao in the state of Oaxaca on March 21, 1806. He studied law at the Oaxaca Institute of Arts and Sciences, receiving his degree in 1831. Within a few years he had served in both state and national legislatures. In 1841 he became a judge and served as governor of his state. From his government service he gained many ideas for political and economic reform.

When liberals defeated conservatives in the elections of 1855, Don Benito Juarez became minister of justice and public instruction. The new administration abolished special courts for the church and the military, forced the church to sell its enormous property holdings, and created a new, liberal constitution. In 1857, Don Benito Juarez was chosen to preside over the Supreme Court and, in effect, to serve as vice-president. During a conservative revolt from 1858 to 1860, he acted as president.

He was forced to flee Mexico City but held the government together until he died at the age of 66.

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