Childhood & Early Life
Benito Juarez was born in San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca to Marcelino Juarez and Br�gida Garc�a, both of whom were peasants. He was orphaned at the age of three as his parents died due to complications of diabetes.
He was raised by his uncle, after the death of his grandparents. In order to support himself, he worked as a shepherd and in the corn fields until the age of twelve.
In order to go to school, he walked to the city of Oaxaca de Juarez, where he also worked as the domestic servant to Antonio Maza. He was later given a job in the city seminary, Santa Cruz on the recommendation of lay Franciscan, Antonio Salanueva.
In 1827, he graduated from the Santa Cruz seminary. Here he had learnt Spanish and law. He later attended the Institute of Science and Art, from where he obtained a degree in law.
Before he graduated, he kept himself involved in local politics and eventually became the councilman in Oaxaca town council. He was very passionate about protecting the rights of natives.
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In 1834, he received his law degree and became immensely active in the political sphere in both the city and the state level. By this time, he was much appreciated for defending the rights of natives.
In 1841, he was appointed by the state government as federal court judge and continued to work towards the improvement of impoverished Indian communities.
In 1847, he was appointed as the governor of the state of Oaxaca, after the Liberal party came to power. During his tenure, he played a crucial role in infrastructure development and improved the economy.
He remained in the position of the governor of the state of Oaxaca until 1852, after which he faced many objections during the dictatorship of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
In 1853, due to dictatorship of Antonio Lppez de Santa Anna, he went on exile to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he earned his living by working in a cigar factory.
In 1854, he was one of the people who helped in the drafting of the Plan of Ayutla, which was made in order to remove Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna from power and create a new constitution.
The rule of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was not very favourable among the public, which began to express their discontent. As a result, Antonio stepped down and Juarez ended his exile returning to Mexico.
In 1857, a new constitution was passed, after which he was appointed as the President of the Supreme Court of Justice in the government of President Ignacio Comonfort.
The new constitution was opposed by the Conservatives led by General Felix Maria Zuloaga, who had the backing of the military and the clergy. The Conservatives arrested Benito Juarez and demanded the resignation of President Ignacio Comonfort.
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After Comonfort stepped down, the Conservative forces appointed Zuloaga as the President. However, according to the new constitution, in the absence of an elected president, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice would serve as the President, thus leading to the appointment of Juarez as interim President of Mexico in 1858 until the next election.
He assumed leadership of the Liberal side of the civil war. However ,as Zuloaga’s troops greatly controlled Mexico, Juarez and his government were forced to flee to Queretaro and later to Veracruz. While the Conservatives were funded by the Catholic Church and the army, the Liberals earned support of other nations.
In 1859, after the McLane-Ocampo Treaty was signed with US President James Buchanan, US gave aid to the Liberals to overcome the Conservatives in military battle.
On January 1, 1861, Liberal forces, successfully recaptured Mexico City. In March that year, Juarez was elected as the President under the norms of the ‘Constitution of 1857’.
During his presidency, the government faced many challenges as it was ruined by the effects of war. The economy was crippled and there was severe damage to the infrastructure.
After he cancelled the payment of interest on foreign loans, due to poor financial status of the country, the unpaid debts laid the foundation for the French intervention in Mexico in 1862.
In 1863, the French forces advanced their way in, thus causing him and his government to go in exile from Mexico City, yet again. He later established a government-in-exile in Chihuahua City.
Before Juarez fled, Mexican Congress granted him an emergency extension of his presidency, which would go into effect in 1865, when his term expired. The extension lasted till 1867 when the last of the French forces were defeated
In 1866, after the US opposed the French forces, they began to pull out from Mexico.
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In 1867, he was re-elected as the President of Mexico.
In 1871, he was again re-elected as the president. His last two elections as president were controversial as he used the office of the presidency to ensure electoral success and suppress revolts by opponents.