|Name||Valentín Gómez Farías|
, , Mexico
|| February 14, 1781
|Died||July 05, 1858
|Last Modifed||Thomas Walker|
Aug 03, 2006 12:16pm
|Info||Valentín Gómez Farías (14 February 1781 – 5 July 1858) was twice acting president of Mexico in the 1830s and 1840s. |
The first presidency of Santa Anna from 1833 to 1836 was a temporary victory for the Mexican Liberals.In his first term, Santa Anna preferred simply holding the title of President rather than actually acting within the office. With President Santa Anna residing at his estate in Veracruz and disinterested in administering his government, the actual executive duties fell to the Vice President Valentín Gómez Farías who used this power to sponsor Liberal Reforms specifically targeting the army and the church.
Hoping to prevent future coups and to limit the political influence of the Mexican Army, the Gómez Farías administration reduced the size of the military and abolished the fueros (privileges) that excluded military officers from civil trials and laws. Their attacks on the Roman Catholic Church were more severe. Following the reform models of the Bourbon monarchs a century earlier, Gómez Farías questioned the usefulness of the Mexican clergy and sought to limit their political and economic power. Initially, the Farías administration advised Catholic clerics to limit their sermons to religious concerns rather than including political commentaries.
When this order to the Church did not stir the Conservatives against them, Goméz Farías along with his principal advisors the moderate Liberal José María Luis Mora and the radical Liberal Lorenzo de Zavala then pressured the Mexican Congress to pass a series of anti-clerical measures. As two key ideological figures of the early Republic, both Zavala and Mora will be dealt with in further detail, along with the Conservative Lucas Alamán in Chapter Three. The first of these anti-clerical measures was to secularize Mexican education. The University of Mexico, its faculty consisting primarily of priests, was closed and reorganized.
When these educational reforms did not provoke an immediate backlash by the Conservatives, the new secular schools organized by the Farías administration were central to the education and political views of the following generation of Liberals, including the future president Benito Juárez and the reformer Melchor Ocampo. Finally, the administration declared that all clerical appointments within Mexico were to be made by the government of the Republic rather than by the Papacy. This practice was not itself novel, but had its roots in Papal approved policies of the Spanish colonial government
These reforms raised little criticism or response from political opponents, the Farías government enacted its final clerical reforms, over the disapproval of José María Luis Mora. Ideologically, Zavala and Mora disagreed on several key issues, such as popular political action and the question of Church wealth. The last reforms, inspired by Lorenzo Zavala, abolished mandatory tithes and seized Church property and funds. When Vice President Goméz Farías and his Congress struck at the economic health of the Roman Catholic Church, the Conservatives, the Church, and the Army quickly responded by calling for the removal of the Liberal government.
Ironically enough, the Conservatives asked President Santa Anna to lead them. Santa Anna, who had been a supporter of the Liberal cause since 1821, changed his sympathies in the wake of the Farías Reforms. For the second time, Santa Anna removed the Republic’s leaders, a practice he would continue until the 1850s. Denouncing the Vice President and his administration.
Santa Anna formed a new, openly Conservative, Catholic and Centralist government, forcing Gomez Farías and many of his supporters to flee Mexico for the United States. The new presidency’s first actions abolished the Constitution of 1824, rescinded the Liberal Reforms enacted by Farías, and created a new constitution.