Jerez, Máximo (1818–1881)

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Jerez, Máximo (1818–1881)

Máximo Jerez (b. 8 June 1818; d. 11 August 1881), Nicaraguan general and diplomatic figure. Jerez was born in León, the center of Nicaraguan liberalism. Political conditions forced his family to relocate to Costa Rica until 1825, when they returned to Nicaragua. Although his father had hoped he would join the family business as a painter, Jerez instead studied civil and canon law at León's university. He received his degree in 1837 and intended to become a priest; however, his scientific orientation led him to a second degree in philosophy the following year. In 1844 he worked for the noted jurist Francisco Calderón as a member of a diplomatic legation to European parliaments. Despite his youth, Jerez earned a reputation as a hard-working, honest, dedicated, and affable individual. His capabilities prompted President José León Sándoval to name Jerez to his cabinet in 1845. However, Jerez's liberal sympathies were becoming more pronounced, and he declined this position in a government led by a Conservative from Granada; instead, the ministry went to Fruto Chamorro.

Jerez joined the Liberal militia opposed to Sándoval and Chamorro and quickly distinguished himself in action. On 17 August 1845, Jerez was wounded in the battle of Chinandega; he was named colonel and major-general of the army. He recovered and took up the struggle with renewed vigor. In 1847 he was elected representative to the Central American Diet in Nacaome, where he formed an alliance with other Liberals and the prounionists José Sacasa and José Francisco Barrundia and embarked on a lifelong friendship with the Honduran general Trinidad Cabañas. In 1848–1849 Jerez served as secretary of the legation to Great Britain, where he was very much affected by Lord Aberdeen's criticism of Nicaragua's inability to meet its treaty obligations. In 1853, Jerez was a Liberal delegate from León to the Constituent Assembly called by Fruto Chamorro to amend the 1838 Constitution. A crisis ensued when Chamorro overruled the Liberal opposition and exiled Jerez, Francisco Castellón, and José Guerrero on charges of conspiracy.

When William Walker invaded Nicaragua in 1855, Jerez viewed him as the last hope of Central American liberalism and joined Walker's puppet government as cabinet minister for a short while until he grasped the true nature of Walker's designs. Jerez then defected to the opposition and led the Nicaraguan western army into Managua on 24 September 1856. Other Central American and legitimist troops followed. Jerez served as co-president in a provisional coalition with the Conservative Tomás Martínez until November 1857, when Martínez alone was elected to continue. Jerez served in various diplomatic positions until his death in Washington.

See alsoCabañas, José Trinidad; Walker, William.


Albert Z. Carr, The World and William Walker (1963).

Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, Máximo Jerez y sus contemporáneos (1948).

José Dolores Gamez, Apuntamientos para la biografía de Máximo Jerez (1910).

Sofonías Salvatierra, Máximo Jerez Comentario polémico inmortal: (1950).

William Walker, The War in Nicaragua (1860; repr. 1985).

Additional Bibliography

Gudmundson, Lowell, and Héctor Lindo-Fuentes. Central America, 1821–1871: Liberalism before Liberal Reform. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995.

Montúfar, Lorenzo, and Raúl Aguilar Piedra. Walker en Centroamérica. Alajuela, Costa Rica: Museo Histórico Cultural Juan Santamaría, 2000.

                                        Karen Racine