What was the War of Reform?

We explain what the War of Reform in Mexican history was, its causes, consequences and protagonists. In addition, the Reform Laws.

  1. What was the War of Reform?

In Mexican history , it is known as the War of Reform or the Three Years’ War on a civil war that confronted Mexican liberals and conservatives . These were the two most important parties in the nation. The conflict extended between 1858 and 1861 and, being very typical of the time, had similar variants in other Latin American nations.

He confronted the model of society and economic administration inherited from the colonial era, with the ideals of a modern democratic capitalism wielded by the liberal sectors , represented by the government of Benito Juárez that was established after the defeat of the conservatives in the battle of Calpulalpan

The War of Reform cost the lives of thousands of combatants and did not leave a clear picture of their victor. However, the liberal army defeated the conservative and managed to impose Juárez as president of the Republic.

On the other hand, after the elections of 1861 in which the liberals obtained a lean victory, new measures of secularization of the hospitals triggered a new conservative uprising, evidencing that the political landscape was far from being definitive .

It is considered that the Reform War ended with the Second French Intervention in Mexico (1862-1867), in which the French Empire, allied with conservative sectors, invaded Mexico to impose the government of Maximilian of Habsburg and start the Second Empire Mexican.

  1. Causes of the War of Reform

The history of the War of Reform must be traced in the post -Ayutla Revolution panorama that ended the dictatorial government of Antonio López de Santa Anna, and promulgated the Constitution of 1857, under the government of Ignacio Comonfort.

Under this government the liberalization of Mexico began. Since the mid-nineteenth century, a modern and lawful state was pursued , although undermining the interests of the conservative and religious sectors, who spoke out against these changes through the Tacubaya Plan.

President Comonfort refused the conservative proposal to reverse liberal laws and repeal the new Constitution. Thus began a period of political instability that culminated with the departure of the power of Comonfort and the confrontation of two parallel governments: that of Benito Juárez as president of the Supreme Court, and that of the conservative Félix Zuloaga.

  1. Consequences of the War of Reform

reform war consequences second mexican empire
The war led to French intervention and the Second Mexican Empire.

In addition to human and economic losses, the main consequence of the War of Reform was the enormous military, economic and political weakening of the Mexican nation , leaving it too vulnerable to guard its borders.

Thus, after the government of Benito Juárez announced the suspension of the payments of the external debt, as an attempt to deal primarily with the internal economic situation, France, Spain and the United Kingdom announced their plan for a military invasion of the American country. These European nations were allied to the Mexican conservative sectors.

Although Juarez repealed the Suspension of Payments Act, the invasion plans were not interrupted and the European Alliance troops arrived in Veracruz in 1862. While the British and Spaniards reached an agreement with the Juarez government, the The French decided to move forward and the Second French Intervention in Mexico took place .

As a consequence, Maximiliano’s government was established in Mexico. On the other hand, the liberal reforms established by the Juarez government set a necessary precedent for a more modern and democratic nation. But this was only possible once the Second Mexican Empire had fallen.

  1. Who participated in the War of Reform?

The two opposing sides, as has been said, were:

  • The liberals , led militarily by José Santos Degollado and Jesús González Ortega.
  • The conservatives , directed by Miguel Miramón and Félix Zuloaga.
  1. Characters of the War of Reform

reform war protagonist benito juarez
In addition to participating in the war, Benito Juarez became president again in 1868.

Some of the most important characters in this conflict were:

  • José Santos Degollado (1811-1861) . He was a Mexican military and political devotee of geography, philosophy , physics , mathematics and grammar, nicknamed Hero of Defeats for his strange ability to form new armies after being defeated in combat. He was an unconditional of the cause of Benito Juarez, who died in a conservative ambush in 1861, and was declared “meritorious of the Fatherland”
  • Miguel Miramón (1832-1867) . General in charge of the conservative troops, he was appointed interim president by the Tacubaya Plan, as opposed to Juarez. After his defeat by Juárez and the American intervention in his favor, he had to leave Mexico in 1861. He returned from exile in 1967 to join the government of Maximiliano de Habsburgo, with whom he died after being defeated, shot in the Hill of the Three Bells, Queretaro
  • Felix Zuloaga (1813-1898) . Military and conservative politician who headed the Tacubaya Plan, ignoring the Constitution of 1857. He was appointed interim president of Mexico by the conservative side, a gesture that unleashed the War of Reform. After the end of his disputed government he tried to join the Second Mexican Empire, without success. In 1865 he was exiled to Cuba, where he returned after the death of Juarez, to devote himself to the cultivation of tobacco and abandon politics forever .
  • Benito Juarez (1806-1872) . One of the most prominent political figures in the history of Mexico, was a lawyer and politician of the Zapotec ethnic group, known as the “Benemérito de las Américas”. He led the liberal and transformative forces of the State throughout his life, holding various public positions and becoming an iconic figure of the liberal movement. After winning the War of Reform and rejecting Maximilian’s invitations to join the imperial government, he became president of Mexico in 1868, leading new changes of the liberal court. He died in 1872, when the porphirate was already seen in Mexico.
  1. Reform laws

With this name the set of liberal laws enacted by Juarez during his first government was known , despite being in frank military confrontation with the conservatives.

Between 1959 and 1960 this set of reforms finally managed to separate Church and State , ecclesiastical goods were nationalized, civil marriage was allowed and the State went on to keep the record of citizen identity and administration of the cemeteries.

Holidays were regulated and official assistance to Church functions was prohibited, also announcing freedom of worship . These laws constituted a step towards a new social and political era in the country.

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