By J. A. Phillips, S.].
C Cif. N vain may we search history for a more wonderful example of human great ness RYA suecess—a poor, ignorant. Indian boy, emerging from the wild mountains of °edam to link 1:is name to some of the most radical reforms the American continent ever Iv it nessed." 'Ph is ext ra va gant rhetoric is Hubert Ti. Baneroft's slimming-up of Juarez's place in history. Aet itally, Benito Juarez, seen without American spectacles, appears far from human greatness : there is a great
gulf fixed between the man and the myth.
Juarez was born of Zapotec Indian parents in Southern Mexico in 1806. Left. an orphan at an early age, he was cared for by an uncle. When eleven years old he ran away to Oaxaca, where a Franciscan tertiary charitably provided for his education. At twenty-one he entered the local seminary, but soon gave up theology for a legal career. Then he joined the "Liberals" and took to politics. Various leaders claimed his allegiance until 1854, when he supported the mulatto rebel, Juan Alvarez.
After the overthrow of this Alvarez, Juarez declared himself president of the Republic and set up a " government " of his own at Vera Cruz—in defence of the Constitution!
Claiming that he was putting the Constitution in force, Tithrez published several decrees against the Church. De " nationalised" the goods of the clergy, both secular and regular; suppressed all orders of male rengioue and all religious confraternities, associations, or brotherhoods of whatsoever kind; closed in perpetuity all the 9e0tiCeships of religious women "1 and decreed civil marriage (July, 1859).
Scum of Mexico
However, Juarez's ripc.rees could have no force so long as he was bottled up in Vera Cruz. But he gained the recognition of the United States by signing
an agreement to cede Lower California and to grant rights of transit across Mexican territory—rights, in fact, derogatory to Mexican so, ereignty. The American Senate refused to ratify the agreement, and the President (Buchanan) then gave direct support to Juarez, who was saved from defeat in Vero Cruz by the intervention of the United States Navy. The brigand leaders—the scum of Mexico—promptly rallied to Juarez, and he was able to defeat the Conservatives and take Mexico City.
These victorious brigands committed
crimes and atrocities over which it is better to draw a veil. Juarez himself " lamented " the " excesses,' yet at the same time he admitted that the brigands had ' acted according tc my orders to deprive the enemy of all resources."
These barbaric crimes, however, were only a bloody prelude to the plundering of the country,
But it was the Church that suffered most. Or rather the poor, the sick, the orphaned and the aged—these were the chief sufferers from Juarez's " Liberal" government. Hospitals, orphanages, colleges, all kinds of charitable institutes, were confiscated and turned to some other use or left to go to ruin.
This anarchy was impossible. Many Mexicans looked to Europe for aid, and Napoleon III provided an army and a
monarch : Maximilian of Austria, brother of Francis Joseph. Maximilian entered Mexico City in June, 1864, and soon controlled two-thirds of the country. Juarez held out in the north.
Had Maximilian not been an anticlerical Mason anxious to conciliate the " Liberals," he might have given the country peace and unity by taking a firm stand with the Conservatives. As it was, his policy was almost certainly doomed to failure; but he failed, in fact, not because of his incompetence, but because America, united after the C.vil War, forced Napoleon III to withdraw his French troops and further defended the Monroe Doctrine by aiding Juarez against Maximilian.
By illegal means and the employment oi force Juarez was twice " elected" President of Mexico after Maximilian's death, and thus he was able to maintain himself in that position of power for which he had fought so often and so long.
Assassination was rife, and civil war blazed up repeatedly. Peace came to the country only on Juarez's death— sudden and rather mysterious—in July, 1872, Such was the man Bancroft termed
" wonderful example of human greatness and success "! Thai, myth—the product of Mexican Masonic " Liberalism " and American imperialism—is a travesty of history: Juarez had nothing admirable in him except his dogged determination, and that would not have brought him " success " had he not gained American help by the betrayal or his country and enlisted the arms of brigands bydespoiling the Church.