Iglesias, José María (1823–1891)

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Iglesias, José María (1823–1891)

José María Iglesias (b. 1823; d. 1891), Mexican jurist and politician. Born in Mexico City and educated at El Colegio de San Gregorio, Iglesias began his political career in 1846 as a Mexico City councilman. As editor of El Siglo XX (1847–1850), he opposed the administration of Santa Anna and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848). After the triumph of the Liberal Revolution of Ayutla in 1854, Iglesias served in the ministries of treasury and justice and was later elected to the Supreme Court. The War of the Reform (1857–1860) forced his return to private life, but he filled a variety of positions between 1863 and 1871 during the Benito Juárez presidency: minister of justice (twice), minister of the treasury (twice), and minister of government. He was elected president of the Supreme Court in 1873.

As head of the Supreme Court, Iglesias fought against presidential-gubernational control of elections. He became part of a three-way contest for power in 1876, when President Sebastián Lerdo De Tejada (1827–1889) ran for reelection. Iglesias maintained that the 1876 elections were fraudulent and that presidential power had devolved upon him as the constitutional successor to the president. Earlier, Porfirio Díaz had pronounced against Lerdo de Tejada in the Plan of Tuxtepec (1876). Repeated efforts to bring Díaz and Iglesias together failed. After Díaz dealt Lerdo's troops a major defeat at the battle of Tecoac on 16 November 1876, he turned on Iglesias.

As a professional soldier, Díaz's ability to attract military support proved crucial. Although supporters of Iglesias controlled over one-half of the country in December 1876, defections and military defeats forced Iglesias into exile in the United States in January 1877. He returned to Mexico in October 1877, but he did not resume his public career.

See alsoJudiciary in Latin America; Mexico, Wars and Revolutions: The Reform.


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

Frank A. Knapp, Jr., The Life of Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, 1823–1889 (1951).

José María Iglesias, Autobiografía (1893).

Additional Bibliography

Guzmán López, Miguel Angel. La participación del gobierno del estado de Guanajuato en el movimiento decembrista de 1876. Guanajuato: Ediciones La Rana, 1999.

Moctezuma Barragán, Javier. José María Iglesias y la justicia electoral. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 1994.

                                        Don M. Coerver