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date: 06 December 2023

The Life, Myth, and Commemoration of Benito Juárezfree

The Life, Myth, and Commemoration of Benito Juárezfree

  • Thomas BenjaminThomas BenjaminDepartment of History, Central Michigan University


Benito Pablo Juárez Garcia (b. San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, March 21, 1806; d. Mexico City, July 18, 1872) was one of the greatest (and most controversial) statesmen in Mexican history. Born a humble Zapotec Indian, he was orphaned before the age of four, obtained an improbable education, became a lawyer and politician, was a revolutionary reformer, served twice as governor of Oaxaca, and succeeded to the presidency in a time of crisis. His unlikely rise to political prominence in a country with a racial caste system was remarkable. As president he led Liberal Republicans to victory in the War of Reform (1858–1861) as well as in the War of the French Intervention (1862–1867). Juarez and his generals defeated reactionary Conservatives and recalcitrant Catholic bishops in 1858–1861 and defended the republican Constitution of 1857. His defense of the Republic against foreign invasion and the imposition of an Austrian archduke as Emperor of Mexico, from 1862 to 1867, gave Juárez his heroic, even cultic, stature during his lifetime.

Although he faced fierce critics and enemies during his lifetime and after his death, Liberal partisans—politicians, journalists, workers, and Juárez himself—created the hero cult and the myth of Juárez. He was hailed as the incorruptible champion of the law, the constitutional republic, and the Mexican nation against powerful Mexican and foreign enemies in life and, even more, in death. General Porfirio Díaz served the Juárez government in war, opposed it in peace, and in 1876–1877, four years after the death of Juárez, became president by means of rebellion and then election. The new president was also from Oaxaca and embraced the Juárez myth to unite the nation and, in time, to create his own myth as the culminating hero in the making of the modern Mexican nation. The apotheosis of Juárez was consecrated in significant commemorative monuments of marble and bronze during the Porfiriato (the age of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911).

By the first decade of the 20th century, the Juárez myth was more divisive than uniting. The scientific liberals (científicos) supporting the Díaz regime presented Juárista politics as the template for the Díaz dictatorship. A new generation of liberals believed Díaz had abandoned the constitutionalism of Juárez. The Mexican Revolution, led by these liberals, overthrew Díaz in 1911. Revolutionary governments continued the cult of Juárez. Public schools were given Juárez busts, and liberal textbooks introduced the Juárez myth to a new generation. Juárez, Mexico’s greatest symbol of the defense of national sovereignty was popularly and officially celebrated when US troops evacuated Veracruz (after several months of intervention) in November 1914. The same took place upon the expropriation of the foreign oil companies by the Mexican government in 1938. During the 20th century, and at the beginning of the 21st century, the cult of Juárez (the devoted attachment to Juarez) has remained steady. Professional historians and the popular cynicism of official history have undermined, to some extent, the official myth of Juárez (the idealization of Juárez by the state).


  • History of Mexico
  • 1824–c. 1880
  • Legal and Constitutional History

Rooted in the Latin term monere, meaning to remind or admonish, commemorative monuments are memory machines designed to influence and mold citizens for generations. During the first fifty years of independent Mexico, years of political fragmentation and foreign intervention, as well as of penury and foreign debt, there were very few commemorative monuments. In the 1820s and 1830s, there were plans and designs for statues and monuments, but they rarely came to fruition. Columns commemorating national independence were raised here and there. Liberals and Conservatives disagreed about which leaders of the independence movement were heroes.

Benito Juárez grew up in this highly unstable and politically polarized country, which witnessed fifty changes of government from 1821 to 1850. Juárez became one of the leaders of the reform movement in 1854 to create a modern secular state. He defended the Reform Constitution of 1857 and national sovereignty in two wars as the president of Mexico from 1858 to 1867. With the utter defeat of conservatives, monarchists, and the high clergy, Mexicans united around their Liberal heroes of independence and raised statues and monuments to Father Miguel Hidalgo, José María Morelos, and others. Upon the death of Benito Juárez, in 1872, Mexicans also united around their Liberal heroes of the Reform, particularly elevating Juárez to cultic and mythic status. From the 1870s to 1910 Mexico became a commemorative nation. “In a country as deeply divided as Mexico, as segregated socially and as splintered regionally and ethnically,” according to Jorge G. Castañeda, “one of the few unifying themes is precisely, though paradoxically, a shared history, even if an official version of it has to be invented.”1

The Life of Benito Juárez

Juarez in Formation

Juárez began his public career in 1831 as an alderman on the city council of Oaxaca, when he was twenty-five years old. He worked as a lawyer, wrote for the press, and held different posts in the state government. He was elected as a deputy to the federal Congress in 1847, and a few months later, he was elected constitutional governor of the state. Governor Juárez was a Catholic in good standing and worked with the bishop of Oaxaca for the betterment of the state. Juárez was a strong defender of state sovereignty. In 1848 he refused to allow Antonio López de Santa Anna, a militarist caudillo, frequent coup plotter, and an ornately uniformed general, to enter Oaxaca. In many respects, Juárez made himself into the anti–Santa Anna. Years later, he wrote, “It is my conviction that respect for those in government comes from the law and from honest conduct and not from special clothes or military displays, things which are only proper for a king in a play.”2 The charisma of Juárez was based on his image as the citizen-politician and president who avoided ostentatious pageantry, wore a respectable black frock coat and bow tie, and always appeared stoic and reserved.

At the end of his term as governor, in 1852, Juárez was selected to be director of the Institute of Sciences and the Arts. The following year, General Santa Anna returned to Mexico and established a centralist dictatorship. He decreed the exile of Juárez, who eventually found his way to New Orleans, where other notable Mexican Liberals—Ponciano Arriaga, José María Mata, and Melchor Ocampo—were politically stranded as manual laborers. Ocampo, in particular, became a good friend and intellectual mentor of Juárez.

Juárez in Revolution

On the first day of March 1854, General Juan Alvarez, the caudillo (strongman) of Guerrero, rebelled against the centralist dictatorship of Santa Anna under the Plan de Ayutla (in the name of state autonomy and federalism). The moderate Liberal Ignacio Comonfort supported the Alvarez rebellion and expanded the Plan de Ayutla with Liberal proposals in his Plan de Acapulco. Liberal war chiefs joined the revolution and Benito Juárez and other Liberal exiles returned to Mexico. Santa Anna was forced to abandon the country in August 1855, and Alvarez established a government in Cuernavaca in October. His cabinet was composed of Ocampo as minister of foreign relations, Guillermo Prieto at Treasury, Comonfort at War, and Juárez at Justice. On November 23, Juárez issued a law that limited the fueros (special judicial privileges) of the Catholic Church and the national army, known as the ley Juárez (the Juárez Law). As a result of this law, civil tribunals would try clerics and military officers who violated civil law. Ecclesiastical and military courts could still discipline priests and soldiers for violations of corporate regulations. The ley Juárez was an important step toward the Liberal goal of equal justice under the law.

The ley Juárez created a furor. “The Conservative party and the moderate faction,” according to Gustavo Baz, “were immensely scandalized by this law.”3 Alvarez surrendered the presidency to Comonfort in December 1855, and Juárez left the cabinet to put down a barracks revolt in Oaxaca. While Juárez was in Oaxaca (January 1856 to October 1857), the peaceful revolution—referred to as la Reforma, the Reform—continued in Mexico City. A Liberal constituent congress began to write a constitution to create a democratic federal republic based on individual rights and the division of powers. In June 1856, the finance minister, Miguel Lerdo de Tejada, promulgated a law ordering the disamortization or sale of all corporate property, primarily the property of the Catholic Church, with the exception of buildings used for worship. The ley Lerdo also applied to town councils and Indian communities. The primary purpose of the law was to break up the unproductive monopoly of lands and urban properties of the Church and to create a new productive class of small and middling farmers, ranchers, and urban homeowners.

With the Constitution of February 5, 1857, Liberal reformers sought, above all else, to establish the rule of law and liberty, promote economic development, and create a modern nation-state. All public officials and clerics were required to take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. Churchmen and Conservatives, proclaiming “religion and special privileges,” completely rejected the revolutionary constitution.

Upon his arrival in Oaxaca, Governor Juárez went to the cathedral, and a Te Deum—a hymn of praise—was sung, as was the custom, to celebrate the authority of the new governor. Juárez put down the revolt and dissolved the regular army in Oaxaca, replacing it with a citizen-based National Guard. He re-established the Institute of Sciences and Arts. Elections were held to send representatives to the constituent congress. Governor Juárez published and began to implement the ley Juárez and the ley Lerdo in the state, to the great consternation of the bishop, José Agustín Domínguez. Juárez politely asked Bishop Domínguez to celebrate the new Constitution of 1857 with a Te Deum. The bishop attended the ceremony, but a lower ranked cleric sang the Te Deum and the local Liberals were insulted. Bishop Domínguez prohibited the diocesan clergy to take the oath to uphold the Constitution. On Good Friday, in 1857, a Franciscan friar ended his sermon by shouting, “If you are truly religious, my people, rise up to defend your clergy and the Pope.” When the new state legislature was installed in June, Bishop Domínguez refused to perform the traditional Te Deum ceremony. Juárez did not force the bishop to comply. “He had done away with the perfidious custom, which to him signified that past administrations governed in the name and with the blessings of the church.”4

Comonfort was elected constitutional president of the Republic, and Juárez was elected president of the Supreme Court in the elections in the fall of 1857. The new national government was inaugurated on the first of December, as conspiracies and revolts by Conservatives and bishops arose across the country. Félix María Zuloaga, commander of the army in Mexico City, rebelled against the government under the Plan of Tacubaya, which revoked the Constitution of 1857. President Comonfort endorsed the plan to shore up support for his government and to avoid civil war. He failed in both endeavors and left Mexico in exile. “The reaction was victorious in the capital, and the wickedness of one man and the ambitions of others had provoked a civil war that was destined to last until the extermination of one of the contending factions.”5 Pope Pius IX bestowed Apostolic Blessings upon Zuloaga and his government. Benito Juárez, being first in the line of succession as president of the Supreme Count and with the approval of the Liberal cabinet, succeeded to the presidency. On January 19, 1858, he informed the nation in a manifesto that his government was the legitimate and legal government of Mexico, and he reaffirmed his determination to defend the Constitution of 1857. “He knew,” according to Ralph Roeder, “that the crisis marked the culmination of the movement that had begun with the birth of the nation and that had repeated for fifty years the abortive throes of a people to constitute themselves freely.”6

Juárez at War

The War of Reform, 1858–1861

President Juárez and his cabinet, forced to abandon Mexico City, eventually found refuge and support in the state and port city of Veracruz. The Conservatives controlled Mexico City and defeated Constitutionalist—that is, Liberal—armies in central Mexico, and Liberal federalist governors and caudillos maintained control of several states and regions and carried on the fight. During the War of Reform, Juárez and his cabinet decreed the Laws of Reform that confiscated church wealth, separated church and state, protected religious tolerance, abolished monasteries, secularized cemeteries, made marriage a civil contract, established a calendar of national holidays, and more.

Both the Conservative and Liberal governments were in financial straits and were willing to risk Mexico’s financial future or territorial integrity to obtain foreign loans and payments. The Conservative government secured usurious loans. The government of Juárez negotiated a treaty with the United States in late 1859 that gave it rights of transit from Matamoros to Mazatlán and across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (permitting US troops to protect American citizens and goods in these areas), in exchange for a payment of four million dollars. Fortunately for Mexico, the US Senate did not approve the treaty. The McLane-Ocampo Treaty became one of the black marks on the record of the Juárez government, and it was later excised from the myth of Juárez. The United States had recognized the Juárez government, and in 1860 an American naval squadron seized two ships of the Conservative government that were attempting to blockade the port of Veracruz. The failure of Conservative forces to take Veracruz, political discord within the Conservative government (General Miguel Miramón replaced President Zuloaga), and the revival of Liberal military forces—particularly under Jesús González Ortega—led to military victory on the outskirts of Mexico City in late 1860 and the taking of the capital city. General González Ortega, on December 17, 1860, dissolved the permanent—the Santanista—army by decree.

During the War of Reform, writes Enrique Krauze, “while the Conservatives had abler generals, the Liberals—from their stronghold in the port of Veracruz—were led by the fierce will and authority of Benito Juárez and the ‘fiercely independent’ ideology of Melchor Ocampo.” Juárez, according to Alicia Hernández Chávez, “demonstrated an admirable modesty and personal austerity in keeping with the ideals of republicanism. He was faithful to his liberal ideals, politically skillful, and an adept administrator. Even his bitterest enemies were forced to recognize his unusual and absolute incorruptibility. There was no question of Juárez’s legitimacy as the leader of the new republican, liberal, and federalist Mexico.”7 President Juárez returned to Mexico City in early 1861. Congress called elections. Juárez faced two popular rivals: General González Ortega and Miguel Lerdo de Tejada. When Lerdo de Tejada died in March, his supporters backed Juárez, and the Congress declared him president in June 1861.

Although the new Juárez government was seated in Mexico City, it faced daunting challenges. Conservative guerrillas led by Zuloaga and Leonardo Márquez remained in the field. They captured Melchor Ocampo, executed him by firing squad, and hung his body from a tree. More Liberal leaders were assassinated. José Manuel Hidalgo and other Conservative ideologues were in Europe, seeking to establish a Catholic monarchy for Mexico. Conservatives had favored a monarchy for years. In 1861, they found a patron in Napoleon III of France and an emperor in Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian von Hapsburg of the Austrian Empire. The Juárez government was bankrupt and in July decreed the suspension of payment on foreign debts for a period of two years. In late October, Great Britain, Spain, and France formed a coalition and agreed upon the seizure of Mexican Gulf ports and customs duties. The British and Spanish sought to collect the debt. The French planned to conquer Mexico and establish a Catholic empire and a French sphere of influence. “Napoleon adopted the arguments of François Guizot, who warned that the Anglo Saxon United States verged on destroying the hemisphere’s Latin peoples.”8

The War of the French Intervention, 1861–1867

In December 1861, British, Spanish, and French troops landed in Mexico, where they occupied the port of Veracruz and advanced toward Orizaba. Four months later, the French army began to march into the interior of Mexico, and the British and the Spanish abandoned the endeavor in protest. The United States, engaged in a civil war, was unable to uphold the Monroe Doctrine (prohibiting European intervention or colonization of the Americas). The French army was defeated in the Battle of Puebla by Republican troops on May 5, 1862. Cinco de Mayo became a national celebration after the war. One year later, a second assault with more French troops took Puebla, and the French army then occupied Mexico City. As a result, Emperor Maximilian did not take the throne of Mexico until May 1864.

Juárez once again abandoned the capital city and was forced, again and again, to move ever farther north. He conducted the affairs of state in his diligencía—a plain black stagecoach—while on the move throughout northern Mexico. Today, this stagecoach is in the National Museum of Mexican History in the Castle at Chapultepec, the crown jewel of the collection. To preserve the legitimate government of Mexico, Juárez eventually reached El Paso del Norte, a small town just south of the Rio Grande river (the Rio Bravo to Mexicans) and the border with the United States.

Although the French army (and the imperial army of Mexican and European soldiers) occupied considerable Mexican territory, there was Mexican resistance in every state and region from the start. States not occupied by intervention forces organized and dispatched state National Guard troops to fight for the Republic. Defeated Mexican armies became guerrilla bands and made it impossible for Maximilian to fully control and govern the country. “It was a people’s war and the armed citizenry was decisive in the defeat of the imperial army. Constituted into National Guard units, they organized effective resistance in villages, towns, and cities.”9

Emperor Maximilian, to the profound disappointment of Mexican Conservatives and the high clergy, was a mid-19th-century European liberal. “Much like Juárez, Maximilian envisioned a strong constitutional state, the supremacy of civil authority, and the secular rule of law. In many ways, the empire consolidated the liberal reforms that had proceeded it and, at the same time, often expanded their scope by adding a measure of social justice.”10 Although Maximilian’s liberalism is standard fare in the historiography of the Mexican Empire, patriotic Mexican history and Juárez panegyrics portray Maximilian as a fool at best, and a bloody executioner at worst. To fight Mexican guerrillas, Maximilian authorized the imperial decree of October 3, 1865—the infamous “Black Decree,” as Mexicans called it—that permitted the summary execution of Mexican guerrillas and prisoners. A week later Marshal Achille Bazaine informed his field commanders, “What is now taking place is a war to the death, a struggle to the finish between barbarism and civilization.” The Black Decree “damned Maximilian in the eyes of many Mexicans, both liberals and conservatives, who now claimed to know the man for what he was.”11

The emergency decree of Juárez, the law of January 25, 1862 (and later additions to it) established the death penalty for European ‘outlaws’ and Mexican collaborators. Juárez’s decree is viewed in Mexican history as an eminently justifiable patriotic measure to preserve Mexican independence. At the end of his constitutional term of office, in 1865, Juárez extended his presidency by decree, until conditions were suitable for new elections. Although Juárez based his authority on the extraordinary powers granted to him by the Congress of 1861, his government, according to Charles A. Hale, was a “wartime dictatorship.”12

In May 1865 the Congress of Colombia gave Juárez the title Benemérito de las Americas (Meritorious of the Americas). The Dominican Republic awarded Juárez the same title a few years later. Although several Mexican heroes have been officially recognized as Benemérito, for most Mexicans this title refers to Benito Juárez.

His national and international hero status was established during his struggle against the French intervention.

By the spring of 1865, the Civil War in the United States was over and the American secretary of state encouraged France to withdraw from Mexico. In Europe, Napoleon III was alarmed by the growing power and ambition of Prussia. As a result, he announced in early 1866 that French troops would begin phased withdrawals from Mexico. As more and more French troops returned to Europe, Republican armies began to march toward central Mexico. Maximilian vacillated over whether to abdicate and return to Europe or stay in Mexico and preserve his honor. The last French troops departed Mexico City in February 1867, and Maximilian decided to stay and fight. He established his headquarters in Querétaro, where he could count on the Conservative Mexican generals Miguel Miramón and Tomás Mejía. Republican forces besieged Querétaro for weeks and captured the city in June 1867.

President Juárez ordered that Generals Miramón and Mejía be tried for treason and Maximilian for murder for ordering the execution of Mexican soldiers. This was justified by the emergency decree of January 25, 1862. They were found guilty and given the death penalty. Juárez refused to pardon Maximilian despite many appeals requesting clemency from Europe and the United States. Maximilian, along with Miramón and Mejía, were executed by firing squad on June 19, 1867. It was one of the most famous (or infamous) executions in modern history. Édouard Manet painted The Execution of Maximilian series in 1867–1870, which was exhibited in Europe and in the United States.13 In a “Manifesto Justifying the National Punishments in Querétaro,” Juárez stated, “Ferdinand Maximilian von Hapsburg, a Grand-Duke of Austria and an ally of Napoleon III of France, came to Mexico to rob the country of its independence and of its institutions; and, although a mere usurper of the national sovereignty, assumed the title of Emperor.” The death penalty for Maximilian is “just, necessary, urgent, and inevitable . . . it reveals to the monarchs of Europe the immorality and the dangers of their interventions in the Americas.”14 Claudio Lomnitz explains the execution of Maximilian was “a shuddering premonition of the end of colonial empires.”15

Juárez in Peace

The republic was restored in 1867, and Juárez was unwilling to give up the presidency after nearly ten years in power. In the national elections of August 1867, Juárez defeated the rival candidates, General Jesús González Ortega and General Porfirio Díaz. “Juárez undoubtedly enjoyed more political support than any other Mexico leader in 1867. His contribution to the national resistance was rightfully honored, and his services to his nation were almost universally recognized. It was argued that he deserved a peacetime administration to effect his program of reconstruction, and it was frequently observed that if he did not use his wide support, it would divide among various contenders, endangering the Liberal party and the Republic.”16

Juárez’s new government divided the Liberals with almost every measure it proposed and enacted. In the spirit of reconciliation, Juárez recognized the right of the clergy to vote, which enraged radical Liberals. Debates on amnesty for Mexicans who served the imperial government produced discord. Constitutional amendments to strengthen the executive power were voted down. The officer corps and General Porfirio Díaz opposed slashing the ranks of the army. A plague of banditry led Juárez to obtain from Congress a decree of suspension of constitutional guarantees to authorize the summary executions of bandits and rebels. He intervened in the state of Querétaro in 1869 and declared military law and named a new governor in the state of Jalisco in 1870. Juárez the Liberal icon, a number of Liberals complained, was governing as a Conservative centralist in seeking unconstitutional presidential powers. As the Juárez and Liberal coalition was coming apart, Juárez decided to run for president again, in 1871. Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada and Porfirio Díaz ran against him.

Juárez won a plurality of electors and Congress approved his re-election. Díaz, from his hacienda in Oaxaca, began a revolt to overturn the government. The death of Juárez due to a heart attack on July 18, 1872, however, brought an end to Díaz’s revolt. Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, as president of the Supreme Court, became interim president the following day, gave amnesty to Díaz, and in October was elected constitutional president. President Lerdo de Tejada and Congress amended the Constitution of 1857 to include the Laws of Reform, a triumph of the puro (radical) Liberals. When Lerdo de Tejada was re-elected in 1876, Porfirio Díaz rebelled under the Plan of Tuxtepec demanding effective suffrage and no re-election. In late November, the revolt succeeded in ousting the Lerdo administration, and it defeated the forces of José María Iglesias who, as president of the Supreme Court, claimed the presidency. In the spring of 1877 Díaz was elected president.

Benito Juárez was no Cincinnatus who relinquished power after a successful war and returned to his farm. “Death came to him at an opportune time,” writes Krauze, “not only for himself and his memory, but also for Mexico.”17 Juan A. Mateos, writing for El Monitor Republicano, noted that “President Juárez had paid his tribute to human error.” He continued, “The faults of Juárez should not be judged by his contemporaries.”18 His posthumous vitality was strong, according to Roeder, “for only one of his lives was laid down on July 18, 1872, and the other continued as long as men thought of him. His being had been blended so inseparably with that of his country that the contest between what he thought of himself could not be distinguished from the urn and the pantheon.”19

The Apotheosis of Benito Juárez

Myth and Commemoration, 1872–1910

Juarismo, the cult and myth, began during Juárez’s lifetime. The victory over the empire in 1867 was understood as Mexico’s second independence. Before Juárez, there was only chaos—thus spoke the myth—after Juárez, there was light. Juárez, according to Justo Sierra, “uttered this sentence, engraved on the gate of the Future: ‘Let the people and the government respect the rights of all. Among individuals as among nations, respect for the rights of others means peace.”20 The apotheosis of Juárez, his glorification, began on the day he died.

On the morning of July 18, 1872, artillery blasts roared every quarter hour in Mexico City to signal the death of the president. “The funeral of Juárez erased temporarily the political and personal animosities of the past five years. Speakers praised Juárez as ‘Messiah’ and ‘Redeemer,’ defender of the constitution, hero of American democracy, leader of the Reform, and savior of independence. . . . Juárez alive had provoked controversy; yet many continued to regard him as a hero. In balance, the hero image prevailed, and Mexicans built monuments, erected statues, named plazas and libraries after him, and created two national celebrations to commemorate the anniversaries of his birth and death.”21 Mythmaking in Mexico, like remembering, involved the reconstruction of the past in the light of the present, and particularly in the light of the political necessities of the present.

A state funeral was held for Juárez; the procession lasted hours and Mexicans lined the streets to pay their last respects. “The funeral obsequies of the dead President were in keeping with the simple dignity of his life. The coffin, with no further inscription or title than the letters B.J., and placed in a modest hearse, was conveyed to its last resting place. Five thousand of all that was best in the city and country followed in a mournful procession.”22 Juárez’s coffin was placed next to that of his wife, Margarita Maza Juárez, in a simple vault in the Cemetery of San Fernando, on the grounds of a former convent. The pantheon consists of two patios surrounded by cloisters for burial vaults and porticos of Tuscan columns. In the mid-1850s a National Pantheon for Illustrious Men was established at the San Fernando cemetery. A monument to Ignacio Zaragoza, the victorious general of the Battle of Puebla, on Cinco de Mayo 1862, is located there, as is the tomb of Miguel Miramón, who was executed alongside Maximilian in 1867. Juárez was the last person to be interred at San Fernando.23

In the state of Oaxaca, a grand funeral and procession was held when the news of the death of Juárez arrived a few days later. The Congress of Oaxaca immediately institutionalized a cult of Juárez; July 18 was made an official state holiday, and a portrait of Juárez was required to be hung in all public buildings. The name of the capital city was changed to Oaxaca de Juárez, and the Zapotec Sierra de Ixtlán, where Juárez was born was renamed the Sierra de Juárez. Plans were made for a suitable commemorative monument.

One of Mexico’s patriotic customs of considerable importance is the writing in letters of gold of the names of national heroes on the Wall of Honor in the Chamber of Deputies of the National Congress. Nearly one year after his death, in April 1873, the name of Juárez was inscribed on the wall in gold and joined those of Miguel Hidalgo, José María Morelos, and other heroes.24

The great Mexican age of commemorative monuments, or what is called in Mexico historia de bronce—the history of heroes cast in bronze—began in the 1870s and culminated in 1910. In 1873 Congress commissioned a worthy tomb for Juárez called the Mausoleum of Benito Juárez. On a raised stone platform sits a white marble casket holding the remains of Juárez. The top of the casket has a white Carrera marble sculpture of Juárez in a recumbent position; his head is in the arms of a female allegorical figure representing Mexico mourning the dying president. Inscribed on the sculpture are the words “Respect for the rights of others means peace.” Mexican artists Juan Islas and Manuel Islas designed and crafted the sculpture. Covering the sculpture is a small Parthenon-like temple supported by sixteen Corinthian columns. The space between the columns is filled by an elegant iron gate.25 Foreigners described the Juárez mausoleum as one of the world’s most beautiful sculptures and an expression of “great vigor and dignity.” One traveler remarked, “No monument effort in the United States tells such a story of heroic grief or so immortalizes the dignified emotions of a nation.”26

Figure 1. The Juárez Mausoleum in the Pantheon of San Fernando, Mexico City.

Photograph by Thomas Benjamin.

Figure 2. Mexico Mourning for Benito Juárez.

Photograph by Thomas Benjamin.

The myth of Juárez—the immaculate Juárez—was created by liberal politicians, journalists, and workers, and appropriated by President Díaz. The president inaugurated the Mausoleum of Juárez on July 18, 1880, on the eighth anniversary of Juárez’s death. Díaz wanted the support of liberals of all ideological stripes. The Porfirian regime honored Miguel Hidalgo as the Father of the Country, Juárez as the great Reformer and defender of the Republic, and—in time—Porfirio Díaz as the natural successor to both heroes, and the hero who brought peace and prosperity to Mexico. In 1887 the United Liberal Press in Mexico City organized a grand ceremony in honor of Juárez on the fifteenth anniversary of his death. A procession of old Reform Liberals, Liberal journalists, delegates of Benito Juárez societies, students of the Mutualist Worker schools, military bands, and more began at the Zócalo in front of the National Palace—where President Díaz was honored—and went to the Pantheon of San Fernando and the Mausoleum of Juárez. “This July 18, 1887, is the first day of this honored date to consecrate the new cult of the hero for all Mexicans at the foot of his funeral altar.”27 In November, Congress passed a law proclaiming July 18 a day of public mourning, creating a new civic holiday. “Newspapers typically marked the day with poems, excerpts from history, and Juárez’s own words. For his part, President Díaz recognized the growing importance of this national day of honor. Every year, Díaz laid a wreath on the tomb of Juarez.

Figure 3. The Juárez Mausoleum Covered in Floral Wreaths.

Contemporary postcard from the collection of Thomas Benjamin.

Figure 4. Díaz at the Juárez Mausoleum.

Source: James Creelman, Díaz: Master of Mexico, New York: D. Appleton, 1911.

In the National Palace in Mexico City, over the next decade and a half, two busts of Juárez were commissioned and unveiled, as well as a monument composed of an impressive stone pedestal and a sculpture of a sitting Juárez fused from the canons that fought in the War of Reform and the French Intervention. Across Mexico, states raised monuments to Juárez. In the city of Oaxaca stands one of the most important and artistic monuments in Mexico. In Benito Juárez Park, a life-size bronze statue of Juárez holds the Mexican flag with his right arm while the left hand points to a broken crown symbolizing the defeat of Maximilian. The statue of Juárez is standing on a high stone pedestal fashioned after the elaborate and intricate mosaics and the geometric designs from the Zapotec archeological site of Mitla. This monument, inaugurated in 1894, is in the Neoindigenista (Neo-Indianist) style first created for the Monument to Cuauhtémoc in Mexico City in 1887. The other Porfirian monument to Juárez in the city of Oaxaca is the colossal bronze statue of the Benemérito placed on the Cerro del Fortín (Fortín Hill) overlooking the city. The statue of Juárez was cast in Rome in 1891, and the completed monument was unveiled in 1906, on the centennial of the birth of Juárez. The statue of Juárez is holding a book marked “Reforma” and is pointing forward.

Figure 5. The Juárez Zapotec-Style Monument.

Photograph by Sharon Lee House.

Figure 6. Juárez Monument Overlooking Oaxaca City.

Period postcard from the collection of Thomas Benjamin.

In preparation for the centennial celebration of the birth of Juárez, a National Commission (composed of four hundred delegates) coordinated commemorative activities across Mexico from Mexico City. Throughout the country, state delegations and liberal clubs accepted donations “from the people” to memorialize the immortal Juárez. The liberal newspaper Diario del Hogar, in Mexico City, published several articles a month in 1905 and 1906 about preparations for fiestas, parades, statues and monuments in many towns and cities, and in every state. “Citizens have expressed the patriotic idea that there should be statue of the Benemérito in every town and city in the Republic, inaugurated on March 21, 1906.”28 In Zinapécuaro, Michoacán, the pedestal of the statue of Juárez is composed of the ruins of a Catholic church whose clergy supported the French occupation and the imperial government of Maximilian. In the state of Puebla many towns acquired small pedestals supporting busts of Juárez. Governor Florencio Antillón of Guanajuato began construction of a grand building dedicated to Juárez in 1872. In 1903 the Teatro Juárez (the Juárez Theater) in the city of Guanajuato was completed. One of the grand buildings in Porfirian Mexico, the portico is supported by Roman Doric columns and is decorated with six bronze statues of Greek mythological muses. The border town of El Paso del Norte, officially named Ciudad Juárez in 1888, had a commemorative monument planned for the centennial of 1906, but it was inaugurated by President Díaz in 1909. A larger-than-life sculpture of Juárez—cast in Florence, Italy—it shows Juárez in a common pose holding the Mexican flag and pointing forward. The sculpture stands on a column of white Carrera marble, which arises from a grand pedestal of marble from the state of Durango.

Figure 7. The Juárez Theater in Guanajuato.

Period postcard from the collection of Thomas Benjamin.

As Juarismo—the cult and myth of Juárez—was reaching its height in the first decade of the 1900s, a Porfirian iconoclast attempted to unveil the errors in the myth and reveal the true Juárez. Francisco Bulnes, a Porfirian politician, portrayed Juárez in two books (published in 1904 and 1905) as an insignificant provincial lawyer who became an incompetent, even dangerous, president.29 The true Juárez was an ambitious mediocrity who owed his fame to his collaborators, a bureaucratic hack, a passive patriot, and a counterfeit hero. The myth of Juárez was one of the great lies of the country. A wave of writers defended Juárez. The most balanced account came from Justo Sierra in his large, sumptuous book, Juárez: Su obra y su tiempo (1906).30 Rafael Zayas Enríquez won the National Centennial Prize for his Benito Juárez: Su vida, su obra (1906). The American continent, wrote Zayas Enríquez, had presented only three truly great men, Jorge Washington, Benito Juárez, and Abraham Lincoln, the “sublime trinity of pure patriots”31 Most Mexicans preferred a national trinity: “Hidalgo, Juárez, and Díaz, the august trinity of independence, reform, and peace.”32

The 1906 centennial of the birth of Juárez was celebrated throughout Mexico with orations, parades, and concerts, as well as the ringing of bells and artillery salvos. And yet the great monument to Juárez envisioned since 1873, and intended for one of the glorietas (traffic circles) of the Avenida de la Reforma in Mexico City, did not appear. It would have to wait until September 1910, during the celebration of the centenary of independence.

In 1910 the most significant commemorative monument erected during the Centenario was the Monument to Independence. On a large quadrangular stone base are four bronze sculptures of feminine figures representing Peace, Law, Justice, and War. On the front face is the inscription “The Nation to the Heroes of Independence.” On the second tier of the monument are white marble statues of José María Morelos, Vicente Guerrero, Francisco Javier Mina, and Nicolás Bravo surrounding the Father of the Patria, Father Miguel Hidalgo. Two feminine statues at his feet, representing History and Nation, salute him. From the top of this tier rises a 111-foot Corinthian column surrounding an interior iron support structure and a circular stairway. Crowning the column is a twenty-two-foot tall statue of Nike, the winged Greek goddess of victory, made of bronze and covered in gold leaf. The Angel, El Ángel, as Mexicans call it, holds a laurel wreath over the head of Hidalgo in one hand, and broken chains symbolizing national liberation in the other. The Monument to Independence was inaugurated on Independence Day, September 16, and immediately became the most impressive commemorative monument in Mexico. The fiestas of the Centenario promoted the civic religion of the Fatherland, although Carlos Monsiváis noted that the celebrations had one primary objective: “Porfirio Díaz is, literally, the Patria, He is history incarnate.”33

Figure 8. The Monument to Independence.

Period postcard from the collection of Thomas Benjamin.

Three days later, the Monument to Juárez, generally referred to as the Hemiciclo a Juárez (an immense white marble semicircular monument) was inaugurated. The Hemiciclo a Juárez was placed in the Alameda, Mexico City’s grand public park, facing Avenida Juárez (Juárez Avenue). This monument is a cenotaph, an empty tomb. The Juárez Mausoleum in the Pantheon at San Fernando is located in a small space that can barely hold one or two hundred people. The Hemiciclo a Juárez, the plaza to its front, and Avenida Juárez when officially closed constitute a ceremonial space for many thousands. The architect Guillermo Heredia constructed the monument in ten months using nearly fourteen hundred pieces of Carrera marble, each one weighing nine tons. The style is Greek neoclassicism, and a semicircle of twelve Doric columns supports an entablature and a frieze. In the middle of the semicircle is the rectangular cenotaph, held up on the backs of two stone lions, and on the forward face, within a circle of laurels, is the inscription “Al Benemérito Benito Juárez. La Patria” (To the Benemérito Benito Juárez. The Fatherland).34

On a pedestal on top of the cenotaph is a sculpture of three figures by the Italian artists Lazzaroni and Cesar Augusto Volpi. Juárez is seated between two female allegorical figures. On his right is Glory crowning Juárez with a gold laurel-wreath. On his left is the Fatherland holding up a torch and armed with a sword. Juárez is holding a book of law and dressed in his usual frock coat and bow tie. “His paternal and indefinite gaze looks into the future, seeing an exalted and fortunate Fatherland.”35

Figure 9. The Hemiciclo a Juárez.

Period postcard from the collection of Thomas Benjamin.

Figure 10. The Cenotaph of the Hemiciclo a Juárez.

Photograph by Thomas Benjamin.

Figure 11. Hemiciclo Sculpture Group.

Photograph by Thomas Benjamin.

The Brazilian diplomat Erico Verissimo described the Hemiciclo a Juárez as a “masterpiece of bad taste.” He wrote, “That Indian, so serious, silent and Spartan, deserved a simpler homage . . . The whole seems a rather pompous mausoleum.”36 There is no accounting for taste, of course; the white marble Hemiciclo is grand, as great commemorative movements are intended to be. The Monument to Independence was even more grandiose, but today it is surrounded by tall glass buildings that seem to diminish it. The Hemiciclo a Juárez, on the other hand, emerges from the trees of Alameda Park and is as sublime today as it was in 1910.

The Hemiciclo a Juárez has served as Mexico’s altar for the anniversary celebrations of the birth and death of Juárez every year for more than a century. When Mexico’s sovereignty is threatened or upheld, Mexicans go to the Hemiciclo and honor the legacy of Juárez.

Myth and Commemoration, 1910–2017

The civic cult and myth of Benito Juárez, invented in the late 19th century, has been sustained into the 21st century. Juárez and the Constitution of 1857 inspired the liberals and insurgents who overthrew the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz in 1910–1911, and made a revolution to create a democratic, progressive, and modern Mexico. “In the Mexican civic culture of the 20th-century, President Juárez is remembered as a major historical figure who helped transform the vestiges of colonialism into a new period of independence and modernization. His commitment to restoring the Mexican Republic, however, constitutes his ‘finest honor.’”37

The new trinity was now Independence, Reform, and the Revolution. Francisco I. Madero, the leader of the revolt that forced Díaz into exile, was called the modern Juárez.

Madero was a spiritualist, and the spirit of Juárez, Madero likely believed, counseled him.38 After his assassination in February 1913, he was glorified as the “Apostle of Democracy.” Madero’s successor, Venustiano Carranza, a serious student of Mexican history viewed himself as the modern Juárez. His army was named the Constitutionalist army after the Liberal army in the War of Reform. Carranza decreed the Juárez law of January 25, 1862, to justify the executions of his enemies and the enemies of the revolution. When the Carranza government was militarily under pressure in 1914, Carranza re-established it in Veracruz, as Juárez had done during the War of the Reform.

Revolutionaries were inspired by Juárez’s constitutionalism, nationalism, and anti-clericalism. They believed in democracy, but like Juárez, they found it most inconvenient to practice and sustain. “Mexican historical memory is vigorous,” writes Héctor Aguilar Camín,” but not democratic. It tends to celebrate rebellion more than negotiation, and violence more than politics.”39

In the 1920s and 1930s the victorious revolutionaries created and celebrated their revolutionary anniversaries. They renamed streets and avenues after revolutionary martyrs and heroes and built commemorative monuments to the revolutionaries and the revolution itself. President-elect General Álvaro Obregón was assassinated on July 17, 1928, and for a time this date overshadowed the anniversary of Juárez’s death on July 18. The Monument to the Revolution, finished in November 1938, overwhelms all commemorative monuments in Mexico City in size. Juárez remained relevant to Mexico. When Mexico went to war against the Axis powers in 1942, Juárez the implacable war president was a useful symbol for the national government. During the Cold War, the “resurrection of the Juárez cult was employed to define and identify Mexico’s principles of nonintervention and popular self-rule, this reinforcing political independence from the United States.”40 The cult and myth of Juárez was taught in the free national school textbooks. In 1961 the cover of one textbook featured a painting of the three national heroes: Hidalgo, Juárez, and Madero. In the National Palace in Mexico City, the rooms that the Juárez family lived in have been restored and are open to the public. On the centenary of the execution of Maximilian, on June 19, 1967, the national government raised a giant monument to Juárez on the execution site in Querétaro. During the “Year of Juárez,” proclaimed by President Luis Echeverría in 1972, David Alfaro Siqueiros designed a forty-foot-high Benito Juárez monument in the shape of a triumphal arch. With its colorfully painted rectangular upper body and six-ton iron head, it is a sight to behold.

Figure 12. Hidalgo, Juárez, Madero. The cover of a 1961 school textbook. From the collection of Thomas Benjamin.

Figure 13. Monument to Benito Juárez.

Photograph by Thomas Benjamin.

Statues and commemorative monuments of Juárez are located across Mexico, in small towns and big cities; “this solid and dependable, squat figure has become the most ubiquitous of national monuments.” Juárez is one of the victims of cabezotismo, or giant head syndrome in the style of the ancient Olmecs and the huge stone heads found on the coast of Tabasco. The Three Heads Park in Ensenada, Baja California (Juárez, Hidalgo, and Carranza), is an excellent example of cabezotismo. Nearly all of the truly classic commemorative monuments from the Porfirian period were copied in inferior ways in the 20th century. Simplistic, modernistic, or deco, Hemiciclos are found across the country.41 Mexico City’s international airport is officially named the Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez. There are Benito Juárez schools all over Mexico. In the city of Oaxaca is the Benito Juárez Autonomous University. The twenty-peso bill has a portrait of Juárez on one side and an engraving of the Hemiciclo a Juárez on the other. Over the years, of course, there have been many postage stamps of Juárez and of the Hemiciclo a Juárez.42 Most, if not all, cities in Mexico have Juárez avenues, parks, and gardens.

In the second half of the 20th century, statues and monuments of Juárez multiplied internationally. On the eve of the Second World War, Hollywood—with official encouragement from the government in Washington, DC—produced the antifascist film Juárez, in 1939. Hollywood created a Mexican hero of national resistance for an American audience, and the United States wanted closer ties with Mexico in a more dangerous world.43 The United States has Juárez monuments in Washington, DC, and in New Orleans, New York City, Houston, San Diego, Chicago, and elsewhere. There are Juárez monuments in Australia, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Italy, and—again—elsewhere. In Latin American countries, too, there are Benito Juárez avenues, streets, parks, schools, and even provinces.44

The commemoration of Benito Juárez in Mexico has not evolved without criticism and even rejection by some segments of Mexican society. Catholic activists, ideological conservatives, and more academic historians recognize the errors of the man and the flaws of the Reform. In 1939 Manuel Gómez Morín and like-minded associates created the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN, the National Action Party) to oppose the ideological and political monopoly of 20th-century “revolutionary” (meaning, to them, communist) Mexico. Benito Juárez, for Gómez Morín, “demonstrated the best and the worst of the liberal tradition—both as a defender of political liberty and an instigator of electoral fraud.”45 The first PAN president of Mexico, Vicente Fox (2000–2006) commented some years after his presidency that he was a better president than Juárez.46

Indigenous Mexicans, even the Zapotec, have problems with the cult of Juárez. In the greatest commemorative monuments of the bronze-hued Juárez, it is a problem that the Porfirians made Juárez as white as Carrera marble. “There was hope,” writes Natividad Gutiérrez, “that republicanism equality would eventually ‘civilize’ the Indians.” Victor de la Cruz, a Zapotec poet, notes, “The so-called national heroes are fabrications of the dominant society.” Native intellectuals are searching for their own indigenous heroes but firmly believe that ideological and cultural plurality is not respected in Mexico. Indian students in one survey favored Juárez and President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–1940), the “Indian president.” It is still not easy in an ethnically divided society like Mexico to integrate and “believe in the same cultural archetypes.”47

Commemorative memory is becoming more plural in Mexico today. Different political parties, ethnicities, regions, and successive generations have different heroes. Official history and outdated myths are criticized and eventually ignored. Commemorative monuments in Mexican cities are harder to see and appreciate, as glitzy glass towers or Pepsi billboards surround them. This is not just a Mexican trend but also a modern and an international development. Historical revisionism is everywhere. But there is a countertrend in the early 21st century, and that is of nationalism against globalization. Mexico has experienced a precarious national existence. In the 19th-century, Spain, the United States, Great Britain, and France invaded Mexico. In the late 19th century, massive US investment in Mexico provoked a discussion in US and Mexican newspapers about the “inevitable absorption of Mexico into the United States.”48 The United States mobilized twenty thousand troops on the Mexican border in March 1911, during the Mexican Revolution. José Ives Limantour, the minister of the treasury, wrote in his memoir, “The danger that threatened the sovereignty and independence of Mexico was not imaginary.”49 In the 20th century the United States intervened in Mexico twice, and in the 21st century Mexico faces an American president who is a populist demagogue and has an animus for Mexico and the Mexican people. “Nationalism unseen for decades has swept across Mexico.”50 The stakes are always high for Mexico, and for that reason, Benito Juárez remains significant in Mexican memory, myth, and history. “Mexican memory unites Mexico,” according to Castañeda. “Without it the country as we know it might simply not exist.”51

Discussion of the Literature

Juárez: Life and Myth

The best bibliographical essay is in Brian Hamnett, Juárez.52 Benito Juárez, Documentos, discursos y correspondencia, is a multivolume collection that is essential to scholars.53 An early but most exciting biography is Gustavo Baz, La vida de Benito Juárez.54 Miguel Galindo y Galindo, in La gran década nacional o relación histórica de la Guerra de Reforma, intervención extranjera y gobierno del archiduque Maximiliano, 1857–1867, provided an overly long and detailed history of the crucial war years and Juárez’s role.55 The revisionist Francisco Bulnes, wrote El verdadero Juárez y su verdad sobre la Intervención y el imperio (1904) and Juárez y las revoluciones de Ayutla y Reforma (1905).56 In reaction to Bulnes came Justo Sierra, Juárez y su obra (1906); Rafael Zayas Enríquez, Benito Juárez: Su vida, su obra (1906); and Ulick Ralph Burke, A Life of Benito: Constitutional President of Mexico (1894).57 Ralph Roeder wrote one of the best studies of the life and times of Juárez in Juárez and His Mexico (1947), which was translated into Spanish as Juárez y su México and published by Fondo de Cultura Económico in 1976.58 Enrique Krauze, in Siglo de caudillos: Biografía política de México (1994), has a chapter on Juárez, and it is available in English translation in the chapter “The Indian Shepherd and the Austrian Archduke,” in Mexico: Biography of Power; a History of Modern Mexico, 1810–1996.59 For Juárez and Maximilian, there is Frederic Hall, Mexico and Maximillian; Jasper Ridley, Maximilian and Juárez; Erika Pani, La intervención francesa en la revista Historia Mexicana; and Patricia Galeana, Coordinadora, La república errante.60 Laurens Ballard Perry, in Juárez and Díaz: Machine Politics in Mexico (1978) argues that in electoral politics there was not much difference between Juárez and Díaz.61 An excellent compilation of essays on Juárez is Josefina Zoraida Vázquez, Juárez: Historia y mito.62 For a recent criticism of the Juárez myth, see José Manuel Villalpando, Benito Juárez: Una vision crítica en el bicentenario de su nacimiento.63 The classic history of the Juárez myth in English is by Charles Weeks, The Juárez Myth in Mexico.64 The Spanish translation was published in 1977 as El mito de Juárez en México.

Juarez: Commemoration

For an overview of commemorative monuments in Mexico, see Helen Escobedo, Mexican Monuments: Strange Encounters (1989), and in particular, see the chapter by Carlos Monsiváis.65 Matthew D. Esposito, in Funerals, Festivals, and Cultural Practices in Porfirian Mexico (2010), has written a marvelous book on Porfirian funerals and monuments.66 Moisés González Navarro has written the most extensive study on the cult of Juárez and its commemorative works in Polifonías sobre Benito Juárez, 1872–2005.67 On the Juárez monuments in Oaxaca, see Robert J. Mullen, La arquitectura y la escultura de Oaxaca, vol. 1, La ciudad de Oaxaca.68 On the styles of Porfirian architecture, see Ramón Vargas, Historia de la teoria de la arquitectura: El Porfirirismo; and Daniel Schávelzon, La polémica del arte nacional en México, 1850–1910.69 Hero cults are one of the topics in Enrique Florescano’s magnificent Imágenes de la patria. For the Juárez cult and monuments in the city of Oaxaca, see John Radley Milstead’s master’s thesis, “Party of the Century: Juárez, Díaz, and the End of the Unifying Liberal Myth in 1906 Oaxaca.”70 Carlos Martínez Assad, in La patria en el Paseo de la Reforma, provides an excellent discussion about the Hemiciclo a Juárez, despite his overall focus on the Paseo de la Reforma. Genaro García, Crónica oficial de las fiestas del primer centenario de la independencia de México provides a 1911 perspective on the Hemiciclo a Juárez.71

Further Reading

  • Ávila Rueda, Alfredo, and Jesús Hernández Jaimes. “Que es la patria?” Relatos e Historias en México, September 2016, 40–57.
  • Buffington, Robert M. “The One True Juárez.” In A Sentimental Education for the Working Man: The Mexico City Penny Press, 1900–1910. Edited by Robert M. Buffington, 67–99. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015.
  • Dromundo, Baltasar. La metropoli mexicana. Mexico City: Colección Nezahualcóyol, 1957.
  • Galeana, Patricia. “Juárez, estadista y político.” Relatos e Historias en México, June 2013, 38–46.
  • Garrigan, Shelley E. Collecting Mexico: Museums, Monuments, and the Creation of National Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.
  • González, Luis. La era de Juárez. Mexico City: Cal y Arena, 1989.
  • Johns, Michael. The City of Mexico in the Age of Díaz. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997.
  • Krauze, Enrique. “Benito Juárez: Profesión Juarista.” In Caras de la historia II. Edited by Enrique Krauze, 47–52. Mexico City: Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, 2016).
  • Rosas, Alejandro. “Juárez en el mundo.” Relatos e Historia en México, June 2013, 47–49.
  • Salmeron, Pedro. “El Tratado McLane-Ocampo: Los usos de la historia.” Relatos e Historia en México, August 2009, 14–21.
  • Sánchez Tagle, Héctor. “La Guerra de Reforma no fue antirrreligiosa.” Relatos e Historias en México, August 2016, 35–51.
  • Soler, Jaime, and Ester Acevedo, eds. Los pinceles de la historia: La fabricación del estado 1864–1910. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 2003.
  • Tamayo, Jorge L.Juárez: Semblanza y correspondencia. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económico, 2003. This is the eighty-seven-page mini-version of Tamayo’s opus.
  • Tenorio-Trilla, Mauricio. “1910 Mexico City: Space and Nation in the City of the Centenario.” Journal of Latin American Studies 28, no. 1 (1996): 75–104.
  • Valadés, José C.El pensamiento político de Benito Juárez. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2006.


  • 1. Jorge G. Castañeda, “Ferocious Differences,” Atlantic Monthly, July 1995, 75.

  • 2. Benito Juárez, “Apuntes para mis hijos,” Documentos, discursos y correspondencia, ed. de Jorge L. Tamayo (Mexico City: Secretaría del Patrimonio Nacional, 1964–1970), vol. 15, 270–271.

  • 3. Gustavo Baz, Vida de Benito Juárez (Mexico City: Casa Editorial y Agencia de Publicaciones de Enrique Capdevielle, 1874), 96.

  • 4. Charles R. Berry, The Reform in Oaxaca, 1856–76: A Microhistory of the Liberal Revolution (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981), 36, 40.

  • 5. Baz, Vida de Benito Juárez, 133.

  • 6. Ralph Roeder, Juarez and His Mexico (New York: Viking, 1947), 161.

  • 7. Enrique Krauze, Mexico: Biography of Power (New York: HarperCollins, 1997), 168; and Alicia Hernández Chávez, Mexico: A Brief History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 148.

  • 8. Colin M. MacLachlan and William H. Beezley, Mexico’s Crucial Century, 1810–1910 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2010), 91.

  • 9. Hernández Chávez, Mexico, 153; and Patricia Galeana, ed., La resistencia republicana en las entidades federativos de México (Mexico City: Siglo XXI Editores, 2012), 13–35.

  • 10. Robert H. Duncan, “Maximilian and the Construction of the Liberal State, 1863–1866,” in The Divine Charter: Constitutionalism and Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century Mexico, ed. Jaime E., Rodríguez O. (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), 134.

  • 11. Paul Vanderwood, “Betterment for Whom? The Reform Period: 1855–75,” in The Oxford History of Mexico, eds. William H. Beezley and Michael C. Meyer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 357.

  • 12. Charles A. Hale, The Transformation of Liberalism in Late Nineteenth-Century Mexico (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989), 120.

  • 13. Juliet Wilson-Bareau, The Execution of Maximilian: Painting, Prints and Drawings (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992).

  • 14. Benito Juárez, Manifiesto justificativo de los castigos nacionales en Querétaro (Mexico City: Miguel Ángel Porrúa, 2010), 65.

  • 15. Claudio Lomnitz, Death and the Idea of Mexico (New York: Zone Books, 2005), 32.

  • 16. Laurens Ballard Perry, Juárez and Díaz: Machine Politics in Mexico (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1978), 33–34.

  • 17. Krauze, Mexico: Biography of Power, 202.

  • 18. Rafael Hernández Ochoa, coord., Muerte del Presidente Juárez (Mexico City: Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social, 1971), 36–37.

  • 19. Roeder, Juarez and His Mexico, 727.

  • 20. Justo Sierra, Evolución política del pueblo mexicano (Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 2009), 279. First published in 1869.

  • 21. Charles A. Weeks, “Uses of a Juárez Myth in Mexican Politics,” Il Politico 39, no. 2 (1974): 13–14. Also see Charles A. Weeks, The Juárez Myth in Mexico (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1987).

  • 22. Ulick Ralph Burke, A Life of Benito Juárez: Constitutional President of Mexico (London: Remington and Company, 1894), 355.

  • 23. Margarita de Orellana, “Plaza de San Fernando,” Artes de México 109 (1968): 58–69; and Alfredo Desentis M., Rotunda de los hombres ilustres (Mexico City: Departamento del Distrito Federal, 1985), 13–14.

  • 24. Muro de Honor: Salón de Plenos de la H. Cámara de Diputados Letras de Oro (Mexico City: Cámara de Diputados, 1908), 3.

  • 25. Máximo Magdaleno, Altares de la patria (Mexico City: Departamento del Distrito Federal, 1956).

  • 26. Matthew D. Esposito, Funerals, Festivals, and Cultural Politics in Porfirian Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 2010), 47.

  • 27. Manifesto á Benito Juárez, el día 18 de Julio de 1887, Promovida y ordenado por la ‘Prensa Unida’ liberal de la Ciudad de México (Mexico City: Imprenta de Daniel Cabrera, 1887).

  • 28. Diario del Hogar, January 1, 1905.

  • 29. Francisco Bulnes, El verdadero Juárez y la verdad sobre la Intervención y el Imperio (Mexico City, 1904); and Bulnes, Juárez y las revoluciones de Ayutla y Reforma (Mexico City, 1905). See Erika Pani, “Derribando Ídolos: El Juárez de Francisco Bulnes,” in Juárez: Historia y mito, Josefina Zoraida Vázquez, coord. (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 2010), 43–58.

  • 30. Justo Sierra, Juárez: Su obra y su tiempo (Mexico City: Tipografía de la Viuda de Francisco Díaz de León, 1906).

  • 31. Rafael Zayas Enríquez, Benito Juárez: Su vida, su obra (Mexico City: J. Ballescá y Compañía, Sucesores, 1906), 6.

  • 32. Josefina Zoraida Vázquez, “Juárez: Nacionalismo e historia oficial,” in Zoraida Vázquez, Juárez: Historia y mito, 36.

  • 33. Carlos Monsiváis, forward to Crónica Oficial de las Fiestas del Primer Centenario de la Independencia de México, by Genaro García, primera edición en facismilares (Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura de las Artes, 2011), xii.

  • 34. Carlos Martínez Assad, La patria en el Paseo de la Reforma (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2005), 87–88; and Esposito, Funerals, Festivals, and Cultural Politics, 148–149.

  • 35. Genaro García, Crónica Oficial de las Fiestas del Primer Centenario de la Independencia de México (Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura de las Artes, 2011), 176.

  • 36. Patrice Elizabeth Olsen, “Revolution in the City Streets: Changing Nomenclature, Changing Form, and the Revision of Public Memory,” in The Eagle and the Virgin: Nation and Cultural Revolution in Mexico, 1920–1940, eds. Mary Kay Vaughan and Stephen E. Lewis (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 131.

  • 37. Natividad Gutiérrez, Nationalist Myths and Ethnic Identities: Indigenous Intellectuals and the Mexican State (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999), 163.

  • 38. C. M. Mayo, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, “Spiritualist Manual” (Palo Alto, CA: Dancing Chiva, 2014), 102–103.

  • 39. Héctor Aguilar Camín, La invención de México: Historia y cultura política de México, 1810–1910 (Mexico City: Planeta, 2008), 189.

  • 40. Gutíerrez, Nationalist Myths and Ethnic Identities, 172.

  • 41. Helen Escobedo, ed., Mexican Monuments: Strange Encounters (New York: Abbeville, 1989), 39, 96, 72–73.

  • 42. José L. Cossio, Album histórico postal de la república mexicana, 1856–1956 (Mexico City: Dirección General de Correos, 1956), 35, 60–61.

  • 43. See Kristine Ibsen, Maximilian, Mexico, and the Invention of Empire (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2010). The American Historical Association reported (AHA’s Zoe Jackson, Feb. 2, 2018, to William Beezley) that it had short movie project in 1971. “Each included a thirty-minute film extract and a book of readings contextualizing the film historically, with the compilation of the readings supervised by a professional historian.” One was Juarez (United Artists), Professor Lewis Hanke, University of Massachusetts. . . . Unfortunately, we do not know what happened to the book and the film. had this is say about the pamphlet: Cambridge. “Armon Books, 1971. Seventy-page, stapled paperback that was designed for use with a 35-minute film produced by the American Historical Association’s Feature Film Project.”

  • 44. See Adalberto Santana, Benito Juárez en America y el Caribe (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2007).

  • 45. Michael J. Ard, An Eternal Struggle: How the National Action Party Transformed Mexican Politics (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003), 65.

  • 46. CNN en Español, July 13, 2015.

  • 47. Gutiérrez, Nationalist Myths and Ethnic Identities, 174–181.

  • 48. “México, provincia americana,” El Tiempo, October 26, 1907.

  • 49. José Ives Limantour, Apuntes de mi vida pública: La revolución (Mexico City: Factoría Ediciones, 2010), 127–128. This book is an abridgement of Limantour’s full memoir of the years 1892–1914.

  • 50. San Diego Union-Tribune, March 18, 2017.

  • 51. Castañeda, “Ferocious Differences,” 76.

  • 52. Hamnett, Juárez, 244–251.

  • 53. Benito Juárez, Documentos, discursos y correspondencia, ed. Jorge L. Tamayo (Mexico City: Ed. Libros de México, 1964–1974).

  • 54. Baz, Vida de Benito Juárez.

  • 55. Miguel Galindo y Galindo, La gran década nacional o relación histórica de la Guerra de Reforma, intervención extranjera y gobierno del archiduque Maximiliano, 1857–1867 (Mexico City, 1904).

  • 56. Bulnes, El verdadero Juárez; and Bulnes, Juárez y las revoluciones.

  • 57. Sierra, Juárez y su obra; Zayas Enríquez, Benito Juárez; and Burke, Life of Benito Juárez.

  • 58. Roeder, Juarez and His Mexico.

  • 59. Krauze, Mexico: Biography of Power, 152–204.

  • 60. Frederic Hall, Mexico and Maximillian (New York: Hurst, 1900); Jasper Ridley, Maximilian and Juárez (London: Phoenix, 2001); Erike Pani, comp., La intervención francesa en la revista Historia Mexicana (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 2012); and Patricia Galeana, coord., La república errante (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Estudios Históricos de la Revoluciones de México, 2016).

  • 61. Ballard Perry, Juárez and Díaz.

  • 62. Zoraida Vázquez, Juárez: Historia y mito.

  • 63. José Manuel Villalpando, Benito Juárez: Una vision crítica en el bicentenario de su nacimiento (Mexico City: Planeta, 2006).

  • 64. Weeks, Juárez Myth in Mexico.

  • 65. Escobedo, Mexican Monuments; and Carlos Monsiváis, “On Civic Monuments and Their Spectators,” in Escobedo, 105–128.

  • 66. Esposito, Funerals, Festivals, and Cultural Politics.

  • 67. Moisés González Navarro, Polifonías sobre Benito Juárez, 1872–2005 (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 2007).

  • 68. Robert J. Mullen, La arquitectura y la escultura de Oaxaca, vol. 1, La ciudad de Oaxaca (Mexico City: Codex Editores, 1992).

  • 69. Ramón Vargas, Historia de la teoria de la arquitectura: El Porfirirismo (Mexico City: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, 1989); and Daniel Schávelzon, comp., La polémica del arte nacional en México, 1850–1910 (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1998).

  • 70. Enrique Florescano, Imágenes de la patria (Mexico City: Taurus, 2005); and John Radley Milstead, “Party of the Century: Juárez, Díaz, and the End of the Unifying Liberal Myth in 1906 Oaxaca” (master’s thesis, East Tennessee State University, 2012).

  • 71. Martínez Assad, La patria en el Paseo de la Reforma; and García, Crónica Oficial.