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Valentín Gómez Farías

In office
1 April 1833 – 15 May 1833
Preceded by Manuel Gómez Pedraza
Succeeded by Antonio López de Santa Anna
In office
1833 – 1833
Preceded by Antonio López de Santa Anna
Succeeded by Antonio López de Santa Anna
In office
1833 – 1834
Preceded by Antonio López de Santa Anna
Succeeded by Antonio López de Santa Anna
In office
24 December 1846 – 21 March 1847
Preceded by José Mariano Salas
Succeeded by Antonio López de Santa Anna

Born 14 February 1781(1781-02-14)
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Died 5 July 1858 (aged 77)
Mexico City, Mexico
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Isabel López

Valentín Gómez Farías (14 February 1781 – 5 July 1858) was several times acting President of Mexico in the 1830s and 1840s.

Valentín Gomez Farias was one of the more important political figures in early Mexico. The first presidency of Santa Anna from 1833 to 1836 was a temporary victory for the Mexican Liberals. In his first term, Santa Anna preferred simply holding the title of President rather than actually acting within the office. With President Santa Anna residing at his estate in Veracruz and uninterested in administering his government, the actual executive duties fell to the Vice President Valentín Gómez Farías, who used this power to sponsor Liberal Reforms specifically targeting the army and the church. Santa Anna wrote to Mexico City saying that he no longer wanted to be president of Mexico but use his military experience to fight off the foreign invasion of Mexico. While he dealt with the issues of presidency, Santa Anna was also secretly dealing with representatives from the United States during the Mexican- American War. Goméz Farías stepped in to become president of Mexico during the war but when it was over Santa Anna was back into office

Hoping to prevent future coups and to limit the political influence of the Mexican Army, the Gómez Farías administration reduced the size of the military and abolished the fueros (privileges) that excluded military officers from civil trials and laws. Their attacks on the Roman Catholic Church were more severe. Following the reform models of the Bourbon monarchs a century earlier, Gómez Farías questioned the usefulness of the Mexican clergy and sought to limit their political and economic power. Initially, the Goméz Farías administration advised Catholic clerics to limit their sermons to religious concerns rather than including political commentaries.

When this order to the Church did not stir the Conservatives against them, Goméz Farías along with his principal advisors, the moderate Liberal María Luis Mora and the radical Liberal Lorenzo de Zavala, then pressured the Mexican Congress to pass a series of anti-clerical measures. The first of these anti-clerical measures was to secularize Mexican education. The University of Mexico, its faculty consisting primarily of priests, was closed and reorganized.

When these educational reforms did not provoke an immediate backlash by the Conservatives, the new secular schools organized by the Goméz Farías administration were central to the education and political views of the following generation of Liberals, including the future president Benito Juárez and the reformer Melchor Ocampo. Finally, the administration declared that all clerical appointments within Mexico were to be made by the government of the Republic rather than by the Papacy. This practice was not itself novel, but had its roots in Papal approved policies of the Spanish colonial government

These reforms raised little criticism or response from political opponents, and the Goméz Farías government enacted its final clerical reforms, over the disapproval of José María Luis Mora. Ideologically, Zavala and Mora disagreed on several key issues, such as popular political action and the question of Church wealth. The last reforms, inspired by Lorenzo Zavala, abolished mandatory tithes and seized Church property and funds. When Vice President Goméz Farías and his Congress struck at the economic health of the Roman Catholic Church, the Conservatives, the Church, and the Army quickly responded by calling for the removal of the Liberal government.

Ironically enough, the Conservatives asked President Santa Anna to lead them. Santa Anna, who had been a supporter of the Liberal cause since 1821, changed his sympathies in the wake of the Goméz Farías Reforms. Denouncing the Vice President and his administration, Santa Anna removed the Republic’s leaders, a practice he would continue until the 1850s.

Santa Anna formed a new, openly Conservative, Catholic and Centralist government, forcing Goméz Farías and many of his supporters to flee Mexico for the United States. The new presidency’s first actions abolished the Constitution of 1824, rescinded the Liberal Reforms enacted by Goméz Farías, and created a new constitution.

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