Zarco, Francisco (1829–1869)

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Zarco, Francisco (1829–1869)

Francisco Zarco (b. 1829; d. 1869), Mexican journalist and politician. Born in Durango's capital, where his father was a minor bureaucrat in the state government and a colonel in the military, Zarco was largely self-educated because his family could not pay for his education. Luis de la Rosa named Zarco to a post in his foreign relations ministry in 1847. Zarco soon turned to journalism, writing political, literary, and biographical articles, some of which earned him the antipathy of President Mariano Arista, who had Zarco jailed, and of President Antonio López de Santa Anna, who forced him into exile. With the triumph of the Revolution of Ayutla, Zarco was able to return to Mexico and in 1855 was named editor of El Siglo XIX, a journal in which he continued to publish until shortly before his death. Representing Durango at the Constituent Congress of 1856–1857, Zarco was elected secretary by acclamation. His history of the congressional debates is a classic work on Mexico's political history. Zarco served as floor manager for the provisions of Constitution, known as the Ley Lerdo, that would force the church to sell its real estate. He defended the law as a prudent measure that would save the government from bankruptcy and benefit the clergy as well as the government. Later events pushed Zarco to recommend the confiscation of clerical property on the grounds that the clergy, by supporting the Rebellion of the Polkos in 1847 and the French Intervention after 1861, had proven to be disloyal to the nation and an "enemy of the people."

At the beginning of the War of the Reform in 1858, Zarco was arrested by the conservative government but managed to escape. In hiding, he continued to publish for two years, until he was discovered and jailed again. The liberal victory brought his release in December 1860, and the following month, President Benito Juárez asked Zarco to serve as his minister of government and minister of foreign relations. Zarco negotiated a settlement of French claims but resigned when the Mexican congress rejected the proposed treaty.

Zarco remained a supporter of Juárez in congress and his adviser. He continued publishing in Mexico City until May 1863, when the French forces approached, then moved north to San Luis Potosí and later to the United States, where he kept the international community informed about Mexico's struggle for national sovereignty and resistance to monarchy and aristocracy. After the defeat of the Empire, Zarco returned to Mexico and was again elected to the national legislature.

See alsoAnticlericalism; Arista, Mariano; French Intervention (Mexico).


Francisco Zarco, Historia del Congreso extraordinario con-stituyente de 1856–1857, 5 vols. (1898–1901; repr. 1956).

Walter V. Scholes, Mexican Politics During the Juárez Regime, 1855–1872 (1957), pp. 6, 60, 69, 92-97, 130-131.

Raymond Curtis Wheat, Francisco Zarco, el portavoz liberal de la Reforma, translated by Antonio Castro Leal (1957).

Richard N. Sinkin, The Mexican Reform, 1855–1876: A Study in Liberal Nation-Building (1979), pp. 49, 121, 134, 150-151; Diccionario Porrú a de historia, biografía y geografía de México, 5th ed. (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Rodríguez O, Jaime E. The Divine Charter: Constitutionalism and Liberalism in Nineteenth-century Mexico. Lan-ham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005.

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

Woldenberg, José. Francisco Zarco. Mexico City: Cal y Arena, 1996.

                                        D. F. Stevens