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Benito Juarez

Benito Juarez

Benito Juarez was one of the most prominent and resourceful leaders in Mexico’s history. He raised the standard of living and championed the poor. However, it took Juarez half his life to become such a dominant political figure. He was born in San Paulo Guelatao in the Mexican State of Oaxaca. His parents were Indians, and he was raised a shepherd boy. His parents died when he was three, leaving Benito to his unmarried uncle. His uncle believed that the only way for him to better his place in society was to become a priest. So, on December 18, 1818, Benito at the age of twelve ran away to the city to learn. He entered the city penniless, and didn’t even speak the language. He soon got a job helping a bookbinder, and attended a parish school. He soon left the school because of discrimination, and social class divisions. He worked, and was then able to enroll in the Holy Cross Seminary. Benito did not want to become a priest, but the free education kept him there. Then, at 22 he entered the Institute of Sciences and Arts, and he studies Physics, and then law. In 1831 he finished his studies, and went to work in a law office. That same year, at age 25 he was elected to the position of city alderman. Then, in 1833 he was elected to the Oaxaca State legislature. Next, in 1834 he became the attorney for the state. Governments changed, as was characteristic in Latin America, and he was thrown in jail. He then was released, and gained support of both Liberals and Conservatives and in 1841 he became a senior judge in the state’s capital court. He was a great judge, he was impartial, didn’t care about race, sex, or social class. He also followed dressing patterns similar to Abraham Lincoln, with a black wool suit, white linen shirt, black bow tie, and a “stovepipe” hat. Benito kept himself clean, and in 1843 married Margarita, the daughter of the people he had stayed with upon entering the city. Then in 1846, he took his first position in the national government, becoming the representative for the state of Oaxaca in Mexico City, the country’s capital. Then after only a one-year term in congress, he became governor of his state in 1848. He helped his state become one of the most prosperous in Mexico. He improved health care, education, stimulated economic growth by creating large civic projects, providing more jobs to the common people. He reduced the debt, while improving the economy, and raising the standard of living among the rural poor people. He bettered his state by reducing corruption, and creating a fair civil service system. He rarely carried a weapon and broke down problem in a military garrison, without using weapons, only by negotiation with the people. In 1852 he retired, after angering the national leader, Santa Anna. During his term as governor, he had accomplished a lot. His state was a model of stability, staying in order even while the national government changed hands four times. He wanted to retire to working at his law practice and relaxing. However, this was not what was in store for him. In March 1853, he had an assassination attempt on him, then he was removed as the director of the Institute of Sciences and Arts, then, in May he was arrested and held for 75 days. He then became a very prominent national figure, soon becoming president, and he fought many groups and the continuous cycle of rebellion, military overthrow, and re-election. On July 18, 1872 after suffering a massive heart attack, Benito Juarez died at the age of 66. Benito Juarez was one of the most influential people in Mexican history. He showed Mexicans how a shepherd boy could become a national leader. He championed his people, and many other groups.


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