José Joaquín de Herrera

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This article is about the Mexican politician. For the municipality named in his honor, see José Joaquín de Herrera (municipality).
José Joaquín de Herrera
Jose Joaquin de Herrera Oleo (480x600).png
Portrait of José Joaquín de Herrera
Seal of the Government of Mexico.svg
14th President of Mexico
In office
12 September 1844 – 21 September 1844
Preceded by Antonio López de Santa Anna
Succeeded by Valentín Canalizo
In office
6 December 1844 – 30 December 1845
Preceded by Valentín Canalizo
Succeeded by Mariano Paredes
In office
3 June 1848 – 15 January 1851
Preceded by Manuel de la Peña y Peña
Succeeded by Mariano Arista
Personal details
Born (1792-02-23)23 February 1792
Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
Died 10 February 1854(1854-02-10) (aged 61)
Tacubaya, Mexico
Spouse(s) Josefa Cortes

José Joaquín Antonio de Herrera (23 February 1792 – 10 February 1854) was a moderate Mexican politician who served as president of Mexico three times (1844, 1844–45 and 1848–51), as well as a general in the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War.

Military career[edit]

Herrera was born in Xalapa, Veracruz, but grew up in Perote, where his father was a postal administrator. He entered the royalist army in 1809, as a cadet in the Regiment of La Corona. By 1811 he was a captain. He fought the insurgents in Aculco, Guanajuato, Calderón, Acatlán[disambiguation needed], Veledero and other places. Later he was part of the Spanish expedition to retake Acapulco from the rebels, and he was given the military and civil command of the region.

He retired from the army in 1820 as a lieutenant colonel and moved back to Perote. There he opened a shop. In retirement, he established contacts with some of the insurgent leaders, among them Guadalupe Victoria. Shortly after the Plan de Iguala was proclaimed, a contingent of infantry moving from Veracruz to Puebla declared in favor of Agustín de Iturbide. The officers offered command to Lieutenant Colonel Herrera. He accepted and added the garrison of the Fort of San Carlos. This force marched to Orizaba, then in command of the royalists under Lieutenant Colonel Antonio López de Santa Anna. These forces also joined the Plan de Iguala.

At the time of the entrance of the Ejército Trigarante into Mexico City in 1821, Herrera was a brigadier general. However, he distanced himself from Iturbide when the latter declared himself emperor, and was arrested for conspiracy. He was freed and took part in the revolution that led to Iturbide's fall in 1823. In the new government he received the portfolio of war (1823–24). He improved the arms of the infantry and ordered a new model saddle for the cavalry. He again held the post of minister of war in 1833 (under Santa Anna).

He held many other military positions. He was consistently loyal to the legally constituted authorities and opposed to the absolutism and arbitrariness of Santa Anna's administrations. He was never an ally of Santa Anna.

First and second terms as president[edit]

In 1844 he was president of the Council of State when General Valentín Canalizo was named interim president to replace Santa Anna. Canalizo, however, was not in the capital (he was in San Luis Potosí), and Herrera was named as a substitute for the substitute, pending Canalizo's arrival in Mexico City. He served from 12 September 1844 to 21 September 1844, but he was president in name only. He officiated at the Independence Day celebrations.

He turned over the office to Canalizo and retired, but on the fall of Santa Anna, he was elected by the Senate to be interim president. He held the presidency from 7 December 1844 to 30 December 1845. He named both federalists and centralists to important positions.

During this term, the Republic of Texas was annexed by the United States. The Mexican Senate broke relations with the United States on 28 March 1845 and gave Herrera authority to raise troops and prepare for war. Herrera preferred peaceful negotiations. When he did not go to war, followers of Santa Anna rioted on 7 July 1845. Herrera and three members of his cabinet were seized by rebellious soldiers. Nevertheless, Herrera was able to impose his authority, and was freed. He won the subsequent elections, becoming constitutional president on 15 September 1845.

The United States, on the basis of the Republic of Texas's prior claims, now claimed parts of Mexico that were not in the Mexican entity of Texas, i.e. parts of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Chihuahua and Nuevo México across the Rio Grande. When the United States sent troops to this disputed territory, a detachment was captured by the Mexican army (29 March 1846). On 13 May 1846, the U.S. Congress declared that a state of war existed with Mexico.

Herrera, with much difficulty, was able to assemble a force of 6,000 men. This was put under the command of General Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga and sent to the north to fight the Americans. Paredes got as far as San Luis Potosí, but instead of marching north against the invaders, he turned back to the capital in December and overthrew President Herrera.

Mexican-American War[edit]

In the Mexican-American War Herrera replaced Antonio López de Santa Anna as commander of the army, following the Battle of Huamantla (9 October 1847). Three days after Huamantla, U.S. General Joseph Lane fought his way through Herrera's troops into Puebla and raised the Mexican siege of the city.

Third term as president[edit]

On 30 May 1848, after the end of the Mexican-American War, Herrera was again elected to the presidency, but he declined the office. A commission from Congress visited him, begging him to accept the presidency, arguing that civil war would result if he declined. He did accept, and since Mexico City was still in the hands of the United States, he established his government in Mixcoac on 3 June 1848. He served until 15 January 1851.

He faced many problems during this term. The country was in a miserable condition, with bandits controlling the highways. There was a cholera epidemic and there were Indigenous uprisings in Misantla and Yucatán (the Caste War). Mariano Paredes led an armed uprising against the peace treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In 1849 Leonardo Márquez revolted in favor of Santa Anna, claiming that the latter's resignation was invalid because Congress had not been in session.

The popular politician Juan de Dios Cañedo was murdered, and the followers of Santa Anna blamed Herrera, claiming that Dios Cañedo had been in possession of secret documents showing that he had been sent to the United States in 1844 to negotiate a cash settlement for the loss of Texas. The Texas charge was not denied, and may have been true.

President Herrera gave a concession for construction of the Mexico City-Veracruz railway, the first in Mexico, and another for a telegraph line between Mexico City and Puebla.

Herrera turned over the office to General Mariano Arista on 15 January 1851 and retired to private life. Evidence of his honorable character is provided by the following account: the day he resigned the presidency, he was forced to pawn a jewel to alleviate his economic situation. President Arista named him director of the Monte de Piedad (national pawnshop), a position which he held until 1853. He died on 10 February 1854 in his modest house in Tacubaya. He was buried without pomp in the cemetery of San Fernando.

Political offices
Preceded by
Antonio López de Santa Anna
President of Mexico
12–21 September 1844
Succeeded by
Valentín Canalizo
Preceded by
Valentín Canalizo
President of Mexico
6 December 1844 - 30 December 1845
Succeeded by
Mariano Paredes
Preceded by
Manuel de la Peña y Peña
President of Mexico
3 June 1848 - 15 January 1851
Succeeded by
Mariano Arista

References[edit]

  • Diccionario Porrúa de Historia, Biografía y Geografía de México. Mexico City, Joaquín Porrúa, 1986. (Spanish)
  • Cotner, Thomas Ewing, The Military and Political Career of Jose Joaquin de Herrera, 1792–1854. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1949, reprinted 1969.
  • García Puron, Manuel, México y sus gobernantes, v. 1. Mexico City: Joaquín Porrua, 1984. (Spanish)
  • Orozco Linares, Fernando, Gobernantes de México. Mexico City: Panorama Editorial, 1985, ISBN 968-38-0260-5. (Spanish)

External links[edit]