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Puros, a name given to radical, anticlerical liberals in nineteenth-century Mexico. The term puro, meaning "the pure ones," apparently dates from divisions that resulted from Valentín Gómez Farías's attempt to use church property to pay for the war against the United States in 1846–1847. Moderate liberals (Moderados) supported a revolt (known as the Rebellion of the Polkos) that forced both the withdrawal of a decree using church property to finance the war against the United States, and the removal of Gómez Farías as president. Puros opposed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which the moderados had negotiated to end the war. Despite disagreements and tensions, the puros often allied themselves with the conservative dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna. The two factions of liberals eventually reunited against the conservatives in 1854. Still, this ideological split continued through the era of the reform and the French Intervention, with the puros pushing for more rapid reduction of the church's wealth and power, and the retention of republican government. Liberals believed in individual liberties in theory, but puros were unsuccessful in including explicit religious toleration in the Constitution of 1857. Puros were more troubled by the inequities of Mexican society and more insistent on the reduction of the power and wealth of the church. Most also regarded the communal land tenure of Indian villages as an oppressive institution. Liberty and equality were, for puros, goals that could be reached only by the transformation of Mexican society through the use of state power. The puros found that the struggle to disestablish the church required greater power for the state, higher taxes and expropriations, and ever larger armies. Ponciano Arriaga, Melchor Ocampo, Ignacio Ramírez, Manuel Crescencio Rejón, and Francisco Zarco, among others, were considered puros.

See alsoGómez Farías, Valentín; Guadalupe Hidalgo, Treaty of (1848); Santa Anna, Antonio López de.


Walter V. Scholes, Mexican Politics During the Juárez Regime, 1855–1872 (1957).

Jesús Reyes Heroles, El liberalismo mexicano, 3 vols. (1957–1961).

Charles A. Hale, Mexican Liberalism in the Age of Mora, 1821–1853 (1968).

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

Donald F. Stevens, Origins of Instability in Early Republican Mexico (1991).

Additional Bibliography

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

Santoni, Pedro. Mexicans at Arms: Puro Federalists and the Politics of War, 1845–1848. Fort Worth, TX: Texas Christian University Press, 1996.

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

                                            D. F. Stevens