Romero, Matías (1837–1898)

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Romero, Matías (1837–1898)

Matías Romero (b. 24 February 1837; d. 30 December 1898), Mexican politician and diplomat. Romero was born in Oaxaca, in southwestern Mexico, the birthplace of fellow Mexican liberal leaders Benito Pablo Juárez, Porfirio Díaz, and Ignacio Mariscal. Romero filled important posts in the Mexican government for thirty-eight years of his life, beginning with the Foreign Relations Ministry in 1857. Romero's service included a total of twenty-six years as secretary of the legation, chargé, or minister to the United States (1859–1868, 1882–1892, 1893–1898), a total of about seven years as secretary of the treasury (1868–1872, 1877–1879, 1892–1893), and two years in the Mexican Senate (1875–1877).

Educated as a lawyer, Romero joined the Liberal government under President Benito Juárez during La Reforma (1857–1861). As a protégé of Juárez, he served some time as an unpaid employee in the Ministry of Foreign Relations before being given a salaried post. When the outbreak of the American Civil War thrust considerable responsibility upon the twenty-four-year-old Romero, he already had acquired two years of experience in the United States as secretary of the legation and chargé d'affaires. During the American Civil War and early Reconstruction, he labored tirelessly in establishing personal contacts with U.S. political, military, and business leaders such as Montgomery Blair, Benjamin Wade, Henry Winter Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, and John Schofield. Romero returned to Mexico briefly in late 1867, but was picked to negotiate the U.S.—Mexican Claims Agreement of 1868 in order to facilitate Mexico's credit rating with potential American investors. He married Lucretia Allen on 16 July 1868 just before becoming, at thirty-one, Juárez's secretary of the treasury.

Juárez's decision to seek reelection in 1872 displeased Romero, who resigned to pursue coffee culture in southern Mexico. This activity lasted only three years, in part because of the hostility of the Guatemalan president, Justo Rufino Barrios, and in part because Romero was elected to the Mexican Senate in 1875. After serving two years as senator, he became Porfirio Díaz's secretary of the treasury.

In 1879 failing health compelled Romero to resign. Battling recurring stomach problems, which had plagued him since his youth, he traveled to the United States to consult medical specialists. In 1880 and 1881, while recuperating, he was involved in several railroad schemes with former U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant, Albert K. Owen, Hiram Barney, and others. Then, from 1882 until his death, Romero served as minister to the United States, except for a short period from mid-1892 until early 1893, when he returned to Mexico for his third period as secretary of the treasury. He died in Washington on 30 December 1898, after an attack of appendicitis.

See alsoDíaz, Porfirio; Juárez, Benito.


Correspondencia de la legación mexicana en Washington durante la intervención extranjera, 10 vols. (1870–1892).

Emma Cosío Villegas, ed., Diario Personal (1855–1865) (1960), pp. vii-xx.

Guadalupe Monroy Huitrón, ed., Archivo histórico de Matías Romero, vol. 1 (1965) pp. vii-xx.

Harry Bernstein, Matías Romero, 1837–1898 (1973).

Thomas Schoonover, Dollars over Dominion: The Triumph of Liberalism in Mexican—United States Relations, 1861–1867 (1978).

Thomas Schoonover, ed., Mexican Lobby: Matías Romero in Washington, 1861–1867 (1986), and A Mexican View of America in the 1860s: A Foreign Diplomat Describes the Civil War and Reconstruction (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Márquez, Graciela. La administración hacendaria de Matías Romero. México: Centro de Estudios Económicos, El Colegio de México, 1999.

Torrent y Díaz, Eduardo. Epistolario liberal: En el archivo histórico del Banco de México, Benito Juárez, Matías Romero, correspondencia 1856–1872. México: Banco de México, 2003.

                                       Thomas Schoonover