Having seen “Lincoln” this Thanksgiving weekend conjured thoughts of Dn. Santiago Vidaurri y Valdez. Lincoln and Vidaurri had various similarities. Both men were tall and shared the same values, that all men were created equal, and both used their power to ensure prosperity and justice for all.
Vidaurri is not often mentioned in Mexican history books, as the living dictate what is said of the dead. He was an enigma to many for like all Vidaurri men, he was humble, self-less and kind. He allowed all African Slaves entering his border states asylum and after a year they were given citizenship and the right to vote in elections.
He learned early what Caesar taught Augustus, that he who had the army controlled a nation. He passed La Paz Octeviana – Octavian Peace. This meant that no one entering his border states were allowed to enter with weapons, all ammunition was left at the gate, he wanted no bloodshed and avoided it at all costs. This action was misunderstood and used againts him by men with ulterior motives.
Vidaurri did not believe in wasting human life, often pardoning those who broke the law, he too believed that the punishment should fit the crime and handed punishment out accordingly.
Being Catholic himself he realized that the Church was corrupt, greedy and banned all interference between Church and State. Vidaurri confiscated all excessive properties owned by the Church that collected revenue and gave them back to the people of Northern Mexico, his objective was to end poverty. He established more public schools, parks and factories because he believed in giving everyone hope for a better future.
During the Civil War he made a business deal with the Confederate States, he taxed them $5.00 a bushel of cotton, this allowed for the South to sell their cotton in Europe. The money collected for the taxation of cotton was circulated back into Northern Mexico, it paid the army, the army widows and used to create hospitals, libraries and more jobs. He saw the Civil War as a business, he did not believe in slavery, but saw an opportunity for the prosperity of Northern Mexico and took it.
He made a lot of enemies, he was not a rich man, having bought La Mesa de Cartujanos on credit. Vidaurri did not believe in prospering at the expense of another, and used his power to make things as right as he could.
He had various names given to him by the people, he was loved and often when traveling forced to walk to his window to say hello to the people who came to see El Vidaurri.
The decade that spawned him is referred to as El Vidarrismo and his army as Los Vidaurristas.
He was not the power hungry Northerner the Juaristas will have you believe he was, twice he was offered the Presidency and twice he declined. Vidaurri was a man who gave a nation a voice and stood-up for those who could not standup for themselves. He while alive was Benito Juarez’s only threat to absolute power and instead of working together for the common good Juarez allowed his envy to murder Dn. Santiago Vidaurri y Valdez in the name of prosperity.
This allowed for a corrupt Juarez administration. Good men do a lot of bad things, in all fairness Juarez did do a lot for Mexico, but filled his personal coffers in the process. Vidaurri was self-righteous and made decisions that benefited the people of Northern Mexico, this did not make the Juaristas happy. It is common knowledge that Benito Juarez was asked to step-down from office, but he used corruption to stay on as President of the Republic of Mexico.
(It was because Juarez stopped all payments to foreign investors/loans that gave Napoleon III the incentive to invade Mexico – Napoleon III was planning to invade, this just gave him a legitimate reason in the eyes of the world.)
Because of El Vidaurrismo Monterrery, Nuevo Leon, Mexico is the center of commerce for Mexico, today people from all over the world travel to Monterrey to open factories and buy contracts for manufacturing, giving the people employment.
Santiago Vidaurri y Valdez has yet to be given his due as one of Mexico’s leading champions and I hope that someday a reputable American historian, like Anthony Everritt or Hugh Thomas take the time to learn all of the things that I learned about this great man. The truth someday will come to light and he will be given his due.