Álvarez, Juan (1790–1867)

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Álvarez, Juan (1790–1867)

Juan Álvarez (b. 27 January 1790; d. 21 August 1867), president of Mexico (1855–1856). The orphaned son of a landowner in Santa María de la Concepción Atoyac in coastal Guerrero State, Álvarez joined the insurgent army of José María Morelos y Pavón in 1810. After independence Álvarez commanded militia forces in Guerrero and participated in several federalist revolts of the 1820s and 1830s. He is best known for his strong relationship with Guerrero's peasantry. During widespread peasant revolts in the 1840s he mediated land claims and reduced taxes. He simultaneously recruited the peasant rebels for federalist movements and the war against the United States. His efforts and political connections led to the creation in 1849 of the state of Guerrero, of which he was the first governor. In 1854–1855 Álvarez led the Revolution of Ayutla against the conservative government of Antonio López de Santa Anna. This movement began the period of the Reform. Álvarez retired to Guerrero after a brief stint as president from October 1855 to September 1856. He remained politically active and supported the Liberal governments of Benito Juárez against both the Conservatives and Maximilian's empire. He died at his hacienda on the Guerrero coast.

Álvarez was most important as a champion of the incorporation of Mexico's peasant masses into the polity of the young nation-state. Advocating universal male suffrage and municipal autonomy, he utilized the fundamental similarities between the peasant tradition of annual elections for village office and the basic tenets of popular sovereignty common to nineteenth-century political ideologies in Mexico and elsewhere. In promoting this model of state formation, Álvarez differed from both conservatives and many prominent liberals.

See alsoMexico, Wars and Revolutions: The Reform .


Clyde G. Bushnell, "The Military and Political Career of Juan Álvarez, 1790–1867" (Ph.D. diss. University of Texas, 1958).

Daniel Muñoz y Pérez, El general don Juan Álvarez (1959).

Fernando Díaz Díaz, Caudillos y caciques: Antonio López de Santa Anna y Juan Álvarez (1972).

Additional Bibliography

Arzola Nájera, Tomás. La herencia de Juan Alvarez: El Estado Libre y Soberano de Guerrero. Acapulco: Editorial Sagitario, 1997.

McGowan, Gerald L. La separación del sur, o, Cómo Juan Alvarez creó su estado. Toluca: Colegio Mexiquense, 2004.

Salazar Adame, Jaime, Rafael Rubí Alarcón, and María Teresa Pavía Miller. Juan Alvarez Hurtado: Cuatro ensayos. México: Gobierno del Estado de Guerrero; Asociación de Historiadores de Guerrero; M.A. Porrúa Grupo Editorial, 1999.

                                       Peter Guardino

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