The Restoration

The Restoration

The liberal republicans under Juárez's leadership consolidated the victory of the principles of the constitution of 1857. The Restoration, as the period from 1867 to 1876 is called, was marked by peace and tolerance toward the conservatives. Juárez returned to Mexico City on July 15, 1867, called for presidential elections, and presented himself as a candidate. By the end of the year, he was victorious.

The economy and the education system were vitally important to Juarez's new administration. Economic development was based on the improvement of communications, the exploitation of the country's natural resources, and the revamping of the mining sector through favorable tax guidelines. Seeking to reduce banditry and to attract investment capital, Juárez strengthened the rurales , the Rural Defense Force (Guardia Rural) responsible for the security of roads and land cargo, and placed it under the Ministry of Interior. The improvement of communications began with the completion in 1873 of the railroad that linked Mexico City with Veracruz, a Mexican venture that had been started in the 1850s. In the area of education, a complete reorganization was directed by a commission headed by the prominent physician and positivist intellectual, Gabino Barreda. He devised a school curriculum that concentrated on mathematics and the physical sciences. For the first time, education became mandatory. Despite new schools, the liberal aspiration for literacy and schools open to all remained an unfulfilled goal, as in most nineteenth-century rural societies.

At the end of his term in 1871, Juárez decided to seek reelection. His opponents were José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz and Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, whose candidacies divided the liberal faction and resulted in none of the candidates receiving a majority of the votes. With no clear winner, it was up to congress to choose among the three candidates or to reelect the incumbent president. The congress chose Juárez. Díaz invoked the principle of "no reelection" in the constitution of 1857 and staged a revolt in November 1871. On July 18, 1872, amidst the Díaz rebellion, Juárez died of a heart attack.

New elections were called in 1872, and Lerdo won the presidency. His administration was characterized by a continuous effort to bring peace to the country, and he intervened militarily in the countryside whenever it was necessary. Lerdo maintained the emphasis on communications through new railroad and telegraph lines. In education, he directed his energies to the construction of new schools and the enrollment of more students. When the time came for electing a new president, Lerdo showed interest in another four-year term. Díaz rose in rebellion a second time in March 1876, again defending the "no reelection" principle. Lerdo went into exile in the United States, and on November 21, 1876, Díaz occupied Mexico City. A political mastermind, surrounded by capable advisers, he held power directly or indirectly for the next thirty-four years. The period known as the "Porfiriato" (the period of Porfirio Díaz's rule) had begun.


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