The war of reform in Mexico was brought about by the confrontation between the liberals and conservatives. Also known as Three Year War, the reform war which took place between 1857 and 1861 reached its peak when conservative General Felix Zuloaga inaugurated the Tacubaya Plan (Heidler, & Heidler, 2006, p.146). The plan demanded the elimination of the 1857 constitution and the continuation of the Ignacio Comonfort. Juan Ruiz de Alvarez set up provisional government and the intellectuals of Ayutla. The ensuing period that emerged out of the liberal rule came to be known as the Reform War. As a great Mexican liberal president, Benito Juarez defended his government against conservative rivals in the Reform war. Benito Juarez led the Liberal political and social revolution which nationalized church lands and declared freedom of religion. A new constitution was written in 1857, and this established the Federal Republic just as the Liberals wanted.
The advent of the reforms war in 1854 began with the issuance of Plan de Ayutla. After Santa Annas fall in 1855, Juarez and the Liberals abolished the special privileges of the clergy and the military. In 1856, Ley Lerdo ordered the sale of all church lands not used for the specifically religious purpose while in 1857, the Congress drafted a constitution which aborted exclusive jurisdictions for the church, abolished hereditary titles, restricted the churchs power, forced the army under supreme control and gave it became the first genuine bill of rights in Mexico (Conniff, 2005, p.150). In 1858, the military, conservative clergy and landowners waged War on the Reforms and the Liberal government worn the fight in 1860. In 1862, Juarez government was overthrown and the Napoleon regime came to power though it was short. Juarez tried to implement administrative policies in the face of insufficient revenues and discontent of many liberals who opposed his increasingly authoritarian leadership style.
Reason Why the Reforms Took Place
The transition from colony to a self-governing country was bitter and arduous for Mexico. The liberals advocated for the ruling of the country by the Federal Republic system while the conservatives proposed the old Spanish Monarchy model. Conservatives and Liberals disagreed over education, work, governing systems, religion, army and many more. The Mexican reform movement was inspired by the Liberal political intellectuals. The implementation of the reform laws diminished the influence of Catholic Church and the conversion of religious land and buildings to state property (Baldwin, 1990, p.31). The reform laws also polarized Mexican society along pro-anticlerical lines. Incorporation of the Reform Laws reflected a more liberal vision of society, secularized education, reinstated abolition of slavery and promised civil freedom for all Mexicans.
The Reform laws and the constitution divided the political institution and raised a platform for prevalence of civil war. This conflict between authorities affected the society and spread a profound polarization thereby dividing the nation into conservatives and the Liberals. (Noll, n.d). The liberals worn the reform war and President Benito Juarez established his government in Mexico City. The Constituent Congress drafted a new law and held elections to vote in the federal and state authorities. The state laws stipulated the laws that would govern each state according to the National Constitution. However, the Reform war left Mexico a weak state. Benito Juarez determined that the country was insolvent and could not repay its debt to Spain, England, and France. Mexican forces under Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin authority defeated the French armies in 1862. Despite the victory at Puebla, the free army was later defeated, the French took possession of Mexico City and Benito Juarez was forced to leave the city and initiate a resistance government in the north of Mexico. Upon returning to Mexico, Benito Juarez was president till his death in 1972.
Causes and Effects
Mexico has had close to 50 governments over the 30 years probably due to the presence of multiple military coups. The two significant social groups in Mexico include liberals and the conservatives (Stacy, 2002). The civil war, dubbed as War of the Reform in Mexico brought to light the underlying conflicts that were reigning in Mexico since Independence. The Reform Laws brought about the abolishment of the fueros, curtailed poverty holdings, introduced a registry and forbid the church from charging exorbitant fees (Pilcher, 2003, p.60). Church property except for places of worship were confiscated without compensation, cemeteries were nationalized while civil marriage were instituted. Ideally, the church property was to be allotted in piecemeal to the landless.
The land policy of La Reforma failed and by the end of the regime the welfare of the landless peasants had deteriorated severely. Juarez won the presidential election in 1861 but the war on the reforms still left the treasury depleted. Trade deteriorated and foreign creditors demanded the repayment of their dues (Tucker, 2013). Mexico was left desolate and impoverished while industrial production, mining, agricultural activities ceased and many of the Mexican population perished. Juarez then declared a moratorium on all external debt repayments.
Baldwin, D. (1990). Protestants and the Mexican Revolution: Missionaries, Ministers, and Social Change. USA: University of Illinois Press.
Conniff, L. M. (2005). A History of Modern Latin America. USA: Lawrence Clayton.
Heidler, J.T., & Heidler, D.S. (2006). The Mexican War. USA: Greenwood Publishing Group. Noll, A. (n.d). Heritage History: Homeschool history curriculum. Accessed on 12 March 2016. Accessible from http://www.heritage-history.com/?c=read&author=noll&book=empire&story=reform
Pilcher, J.M (2003). The Human Tradition in Mexico. Rowman & Littlefield.
Poole, S. (2006). The Guadalupan Controversies in Mexico. California: Stanford University Press.
Stacy, L. (2002). Mexico and the United States. 1. USA: Marshall Cavendish.
Tucker, S. (2013). American Civil War: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection. England: ABC-CLIO
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