González Ortega, Jesús (1822–1881)

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González Ortega, Jesús (1822–1881)

Jesús González Ortega (b. 1822; d. 1881), Mexican military officer and cabinet minister. Born on a hacienda near Teúl, Zacatecas, and educated in Guadalajara, Ortega held an office job in Teúl until the War of the Reform. Of liberal ideas, he was elected to the legislature of the state of Zacatecas in 1858 and soon after was designated the state's governor. Ortega began his military career by organizing and leading the Zacatecas militia. One of the most successful liberal generals, he was appointed by President Benito Juárez to succeed Santos Degollado. After a series of victories over the Conservatives, Ortega led the victorious liberal army into Mexico City on 1 January 1861, ending the War of the Reform.

After Juárez named him minister of war on 20 January, Ortega resigned three months later over political differences with the president. Under the Constitution of 1857, as the congressionally elected interim president of the Supreme Court, Ortega was first in line of succession to the presidency of the republic. During the French Intervention, President Juárez reluctantly turned to Ortega to take command of the Army of the East. After the siege of Puebla in 1863, Ortega was forced to surrender, but he escaped his captors and fled to the United States. Juárez decreed the extension of his own presidential term and announced that Ortega had renounced his claim to the presidency by remaining in a foreign country without permission. When Ortega returned to Mexico in 1866, he was arrested and held without trial. He was released in August 1868 with the stipulation that the government reserved the right to prosecute him. Ortega resigned as president of the Court and retired from politics.

See alsoJuárez, Benito; Mexico, Constitutions: Constitutions Prior to 1917.


Ivie E. Cadenhead, Jr., Jesús González Ortega and Mexican National Politics (1972).

Laurens B. Perry, Juárez and Díaz: Machine Politics in Mexico (1978).

Richard N. Sinkin, The Mexican Reform, 1855–1876: A Study in Liberal Nation-Building (1979); Diccionario Porrúa de historia, biografía y geografía de México, 5th ed. (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Acevedo, Esther. La definición del estado mexicano, 1857–1867. México: Secretaría de Gobernación: Archivo General de la Nación-México, 1999.

                                          D. F. Stevens

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