ZAPOTEC BENITO JUÁREZ BECOMES FIRST INDIGENOUS MEXICAN PRESIDENT
The first indigenous Mexican president (1861-72), Juárez was born on March 21, 1806 in Oaxaca. In 1831, he received his law degree and won a municipal council seat. By 1841, he was a judge and governor of his state. Opposed to the power of the Church and aristocracy, he sought a constitutional government based on a federal system. In 1857, Congress chose him to preside over the Supreme Court, thus also making him vice president. In 1861, he was elected president. Facing a depleted treasury, his effort to suspend payment on foreign debts brought English, Spanish, and French troops to Veracruz. Eventually, Napoleon III conquered Mexico controlling it through Emperor Maximilian I. Juárez held the government together until 1867 when Napoleon left and Maximilian was executed. His support waned when he sought to expand his powers. Reelected in 1871, he died July 18, 1872. Buried in the Pantheon of San Fernando in Mexico City, his efforts against France made him a national hero.
Source: Walter V. Scholes, “Benito Juarez: President of Mexico,” Encyclopedia Brittanica. Retrieved 6/5/2019, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Benito-Juarez Photo: Author and date unknown. Library of Congress. Public Domain in U.S.: Pre 1/1/1925. Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less.