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JUAREZ, BENITO - Early and Rare Juarez Letter Signed in 1856
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JUAREZ, BENITO - Early and Rare Juarez Letter Signed in 1856

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JUÁREZ, BENITO. (1806-1872). Mexican statesman and national hero. LS. As governor of Oaxaca. (“Benito Juárez”). 1p. Tall 4to. Oaxaca, July 7, 1856. To the Minister of Development, Manuel Siliceo. In Spanish with translation. A letter signed by Juarez, bound together with a cover sheet and two printed circular letters pertaining to a survey of the languages spoken by the people of Oaxaca.  


“Government of Oaxaca


Having His Excellency Lord Minister of Development directly linked to this government, the circular supreme that Your Lordship served to transcribe for me, in his attentive and appreciable office on the 5th, I have now released corresponding orders to the State Officials, with a view to providing His Excellency with the news that he desires and I am able to offer it in the official note, of which it is with great satisfaction I say to Your Lordship in answer to his attentive office, renewing at one and the same time my distinguished appreciation. God and Liberty. Oaxaca, July 7 of 1856…”


Born in the mountains of Oaxaca in an Adobe house to Zapotec peasants, Juarez spoke only Zapotec until seeking a formal education at a Franciscan school where he learned Latin and Spanish. He went on to study law and was elected to the Oaxaca city council in 1831. With his 1843 marriage to Margarita Maza, a lady of Italian descent, Juarez gained social standing in Oaxaca, which enhanced his political career. He was appointed judge, prosecutor for the state court and was elected to the federal legislature. In 1847, he became governor of Oaxaca and served until 1852. However, for refusing to support President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, he was briefly exiled to New Orleans until Santa Anna’s resignation in 1855. After his return to Mexico, he supported Juan Alvarez’s provisional government in which he served as Minister of Justice and ecclesiastical affairs and helped curb the power of the Catholic Church and the Mexican army. In January 1856, he was again elected governor of Oaxaca in which capacity he signed our letter.


Five years later, in March 1861, the people chose Juárez as president of Mexico, where he introduced reforms that included strengthening the power of the liberals and nationalizing church property. But the War of Reform, which brought Juárez to power, had left the Mexican treasury depleted and, despite his best efforts, Mexico remained mired in economic chaos. In July 1861, Juárez suspended payment of the national debt for two years, angering such foreign creditors as France’s emperor, Napoléon III, who seized the opportunity for a long-contemplated invasion of Mexico. Almost immediately, on May 5, French forces met significant resistance at Puebla where they were defeated in a battle still commemorated to this day as a national holiday (Cinco de Mayo).


Our letter refers to Minister of Development Manuel Siliceo’s monumental undertaking to conduct a geographical and scientific survey, later published as Atlas nacional que comprende la historia y la geografia antiguas, la geologia, la zoologia, la botanica, la estadistica, las cartas geologicas y geodesicotopographficas del Valle de Mexico (National Atlas Comprising Ancient History and Geography, Geology, Zoology, Botany, Statistics, Geological and Geodetic Charts of the Valley of Mexico).


Bound together with a cover page, dated June 1856, which identifies the three pages as a report in which the Ministry of Development orders a survey of languages. Folded with several worm holes, not affecting the text. Tape residue in the left margin and in very good condition. Very rare from this period; we could locate only one other autograph (a DS) this early in more than 40 years of auction records.


Item #19035


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