Ignacio Ramírez

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Ignacio Ramírez "El Nigromante"
Ramirez nigromante.jpg
BornIgnacio Ramírez Calzada
(1818-06-22)22 June 1818
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Died15 June 1879(1879-06-15) (aged 60)
Mexico City, Mexico
OccupationWriter, lawyer, poet
Literary movementSatire, libertarianism

Juan Ignacio Paulino Ramírez Calzada,[1] known as Ignacio Ramírez, (22 June 1818 – 15 June 1879) was a Mexican writer, poet, journalist, lawyer, atheist, and political libertarian from San Miguel de Allende, then called San Miguel el Grande.[2] His father had been a prominent federalist politician.[3] In writings, Ramírez used the pen name, El Nigromante (The Necromancer). He defended the rights of Indians. Ramírez worked with Guillermo Prieto to start the satirical periodical, Don Simplicio. Ramírez is considered a member of the "'romantic generation' of Mexican liberals" coinciding with the Liberal Reform; others were Ponciano Arriaga, Miguel Lerdo de Tejada, Melchor Ocampo, and Guillermo Prieto.[4]

Birth and education[edit]

Ramírez was born in San Miguel de Allende on 22 June 1818, the son of José Lino Ramírez and Ana María Guadalupe Sinforosa Calzada Ramírez. He began his studies in Querétaro, birth city of his father, and in 1835 was taken to the Colegio de San Gregorio in Mexico City, where he studied arts. In 1841 he began studies and in 1845 obtained a law degree at the Pontifical University of Mexico. He was admitted at age nineteen to the literary Academy of San Juan de Letrán, composed of the most enlightened men of the time.

Political life[edit]

According to the website of the Mexican government, "He was persecuted and imprisoned for his ideas, but managed to promote various changes to the law, such as that guaranteeing the autonomy of the municipality. He was named Minister for Instruction and Promotion, instituting important educational and economic reforms. During the reign of the Emperor Maximilian, he was banished to California, but on his return from San Francisco to the Republic following the ousting of the French, he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Justice as a magistrate.[5]

Ramírez criticized Benito Juárez's re-election, and later the re-election bid of his successor, Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, for which he was imprisoned.[6] Beginning in 1876, when Porfirio Díaz came to power, he was tasked by the government to implement policies to expand public education, a key component of the Liberal's program. Under Ramírez, primary was expanded, including education for women and indigenous, and public secondary education established.[7]

He served in the government of Porfirio Díaz as Minister of Justice and Education. until he criticized Díaz and fell out of favor, but returned to the Supreme Court.[8] He died 15 June 1879 in Mexico City.


Ramirez is famous in Mexico's literary annals for his speech at the Academy on a topic so controversial that had the effect of a dynamite explosion: "There is no God. Natural beings sustain themselves" ("No hay Dios; los seres de la naturaleza se sostienen por sí mismos")[9] He was accepted despite protests that petrified the assembly. "From this Ramírez developed the idea that literature should play a part in the progress of Mexican society and democracy."[10] He championed the improvement of the situation of women in Mexico and extolled "education as the only possible way to achieve well-being."[11] In the 1840s, Ramírez was involved with the Instituto Literario de Toluca,[12] where he mentored the famous novelist Ignacio Manuel Altamirano.

Long after his death, his atheism was the subject of a scandal in 1948 when muralist Diego Rivera painted a mural at the Del Prado Hotel with Ramírez holding a sign reading, "Dios no existe"[13] ("God does not exist"). Rivera would not remove the inscription, so the mural was not shown for 9 years – after Rivera agreed to remove the offending words. He stated: "To affirm "God does not exist", I do not have to hide behind Don Ignacio Ramírez; I am an atheist and I consider religions to be a form of collective neurosis. I am not an enemy of the Catholics, as I am not an enemy of the tuberculars, the myopic or the paralytics; you cannot be an enemy of the sick, only their good friend to help them cure themselves."[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Arellano, Emilio. Ignacio Ramírez, El Nigromante, Memorias prohibidas. México D. F. Editorial Planeta, 2009. (205 pages)
  2. ^ María Elena Victoria Jardón, "Ignacio Ramírez" in Encyclopedia of Mexico, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997, p.1231.
  3. ^ Jardón, "Ignacio Ramírez", p. 1231.
  4. ^ Charles A. Hale, The Transformation of Liberalism in Late Nineteenth-Century Mexico. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1989, p. 7.
  5. ^ Jardón, "Ignacio Ramírez", p. 1231.
  6. ^ Jardón, "Ignacio Ramírez", p. 1231.
  7. ^ Victoria Andrade de Herrara, "Education in Mexico: Historical and Contemporary Educational Systems" in Children of La Frontera: Binational Efforts to Service Mexican Migrant and Immigrant Students. US Department of Education, Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) 1996, 28.
  8. ^ Jardón, "Ignacio Ramírez", p. 1231.
  9. ^ Jardón, "Ignacio Ramírez", p. 1231.
  10. ^ Jardón, "Ignacio Ramírez", p. 1231.
  11. ^ Jardón, "Ignacio Ramírez", p. 1231.
  12. ^ Jardón, "Ignacio Ramírez", p. 1231.
  13. ^ Mexican Mural School
  14. ^ Philip Stein, Siqueiros: his life and works (International Publishers Co, 1994), ISBN 0-7178-0706-1, pp176

External links[edit]