León de la Barra, Francisco (1863–1939)

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León de la Barra, Francisco (1863–1939)

Francisco León de la Barra (b. 16 June 1863; d. 22 September 1939), president of Mexico (26 May 1911–6 November 1911). The son of a Chilean immigrant who fought for the Liberals in the War of the Reform, León de la Barra was a native of Querétaro. He graduated in 1886 from the School of Jurisprudence that was later absorbed into the National University. An outstanding international lawyer and career diplomat, León de la Barra was Mexico's ambassador to the United States when the Revolution of 1910 began. After being elevated constitutionally to the presidency by the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez, he presided over the most democratic elections held until that time.

Nicknamed the "White President" because of his apolitical behavior, León de la Barra walked with some success the slippery tightrope between demands for peace and order and the quest for social change. Although some interpretations have made his presidency the scapegoat for Francisco Madero's inadequacies, more recent studies have been more favorable, pointing out that he allowed a free press and initiated labor and agrarian reforms. León de la Barra served Victoriano Huerta briefly as secretary of foreign relations (1913), was ambassador to France in 1913–1914, and then retired to Europe, where he played a role in the post—World War I settlement. He died in Biarritz, France.

See alsoMadero, Francisco Indalecio .


Stanley R. Ross, Francisco I. Madero: Apostle of Mexican Democracy (1955).

Presidencia De La República, Los presidentes de México: Discursos políticos, 1910–1988 (1988), vol. 1, esp. pp. 17-21.

Additional Bibliography

Avila Espinosa, Felipe Arturo. Entre el porfiriato y la revolución: El gobierno interino de Francisco León de la Barra. México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2005.

Henderson, Peter. In the Absence of Don Porfirio: Francisco León de la Barra and the Mexican Revolution. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2000.

                              Peter V. N. Henderson