Lerdo de Tejada, Miguel (1812–1861)

views updated

Lerdo de Tejada, Miguel (1812–1861)

Miguel Lerdo de Tejada (b. 1812; d. 22 March 1861), Mexican politician, author of the Ley Lerdo, and brother of Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada. A native of the city of Veracruz, Lerdo was elected to the Mexico City ayuntamiento (city council) in 1849 and became its president in 1852. Lerdo was a close associate of many of the agiotistas (moneylenders) of Mexico City and Veracruz and a consistent advocate of infrastructure development. Lerdo was deputy minister and later minister of development during the last presidency of Antonio López de Santa Anna (1853–1855). As finance minister for Ignacio Comonfort, Lerdo issued the Law Disamortizing Urban and Rural Property, commonly called the Ley Lerdo, on 25 June 1856. Lerdo served Benito Juárez as finance minister (1858–1859, 1859–1860) and as minister of development (1859, 1860). On 12 July 1859, after Lerdo had threatened to resign, the liberal government issued a decree nationalizing all property of the regular and secular clergy, suppressing religious orders, and separating the church and the state. Lerdo hoped to use church property as collateral for a loan from the United States to adequately fund the liberal government and its war against the conservatives. He traveled to New Orleans, New York, and Washington, D.C., in 1859, but was unsuccessful in acquiring funds. Lerdo resigned in June 1860, when Juárez rejected his proposal to suspend payment on the foreign debt, but the real difference between the two men was Lerdo's position in favor of either negotiating peace with the conservatives or inviting U.S. intervention, neither of which Juárez would accept. After the liberal victory, Lerdo became a candidate for the presidency of the republic. During the campaign he died of typhus in Mexico City.

See alsoAnticlericalism; Ley Lerdo.


Carmen Blázquez, Miguel Lerdo de Tejada: Un liberal veracruzano en la política nacional (1978).

Richard N. Sinkin, The Mexican Reform, 1855–1876: A Study in Liberal Nation-Building (1979).

Barbara A. Tenenbaum, The Politics of Penury: Debt and Taxes in Mexico, 1821–1856 (1986), pp. 133, 156-163.

Additional Bibliography

Fowler, Will. Mexico in the Age of Proposals, 1821–1853. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Villegas Revueltas, Silvestre. El liberalismo moderado en México, 1852–1864. México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1997.

                                                D. F. Stevens