Manuel Gonzalez Flores was a liberal politician and military general who served as the 31st president of Mexico. Joining the military after the death of his father, he was devoted to duty and gallantry. He was brave during times of combat and didn’t hesitate to fight under the military leader he believed in. Gonzalez was active on both the Conservative and Liberal sides during his military career, flip-flopping between both parties depending on who was leading the group. He was a key player during the French Intervention of Mexico (lieutenant) and during the Reform War (general). In addition to his strong military background, Gonzalez also had quite an extensive political background. Starting out as a lowly solder in the Army, he progressed rapidly to the offices of Governor, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Navy and ultimately the President. He was considered courageous and intelligent, as well as greedy for power. Although not much is known about his family life, we do know that he was married twice in the same year (presumably after his first wife died) ande that he fathered two sons. When he died, he made sure to tell his family and friends to obey and honor Porfirio Diaz, his successor.
Childhood & Early Life
Manuel Gonzalez Flores was born on June 18, 1833 in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. He was one of four children to Coronel Fernando Gonzalez Lerma and Eusebia Flores Capistran.
He was heavily influenced by his father’s death at the hands of the United States’ invaders, which resulted in Flores joining the army at the age of 19 in 1947.
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Showing his support for Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna, Gonzalez engaged in combat alongside the Conservative forces from 1853-1855.
He was wounded in 1856 during the Battle at Ocotlan where he was engaged in combat with the rebels who were opposed to President Ignacio Comonfort.
In 1859, he joined Conservative General Miguel Miramon in an attack against President Benito Juarez. In 1867, General Miramon was executed for treason at the order of President Juarez.
In 1860, Congress offered amnesty to the Conservatives and Gonzalez took it. During the same time, he fought alongside the Liberals against the French invasion and Maximillian of Habsburg.
In 1862, while serving under Porfirio Diaz, he was wounded in the defense of Puebla and taken prisoner by the French. After his escape, Diaz made him chief of the Army of the Center.
He continued to engage the enemy under Diaz’s commands, fighting in the battles of Miahuatlan and La Carbonera, Oaxaca. He was once again captured and taken prisoner by the French. He was later paroled and rejoined the Mexican army.
In 1867, while fighting at Puebla, Gonzalez lost his right arm. That same year, President Juarez appointed him to the position of military commander of the Federal District, as well as governor of the National Palace.
Gonzalez served as President of Mexico from December 1, 1880 until November 30, 1884.
While he was president, Gonzalez opened the railway from Mexico City to El Paso, Texas.
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He also founded the Banco Nacional de Mexico.
In the state of Puebla, he established industrial and agricultural settlements that were made up of 1,500 Italians.
He also inaugurated the country’s first submarine cable.
In 1882, he helped establish the metric system throughout the country.
He was also pivotal in settling a dispute with Guatemala. The dispute was settled peacefully.
While in office, Gonzalez managed to get the Constitution of 1857 amended, changing who succeeded the president in case of death while in office. The new succession would go to the president of the Senate.
Personal Life & Legacy
In May 1860, Gonzalez married Mariana Vazquez. Later that year, Mariana died, allowing him to remarry.
In September 1860, he married Laura Fdz Mantecon Arteaga.
Gonzalez and Arteaga had two sons: Manuel Gonzalez Hijo, Fdz Mantecon (March 20, 1863) and Fernando Gonzalez, Fdz Mantecon (July 6, 1865).
After his presidency ended, he was charged with embezzlement of public funds. The grand jury failed to press charges against him.
He died on April 10, 1893 at Chapingo, State of Mexico.
After the grand jury failed to press embezzlement charges against him, he became governor of Guanajuato. He was elected unanimously and served from 1884-1893.
He was the first president to be elected by popular vote from his home state of Tamaulipas.
In 1854, he fought against Porfirio Diaz, but later fought along with Diaz in the 1860s.
He was preceded and succeeded by Porfirio Diaz.