The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952

Book Reviews

minerals, wild animals, or wild flowers, the author gives credit
where credit is due. Fuller interpretation of the record is added
by the judicious use of pertinent figures and quotations. The style
is concise, lucid, and stimulating. A few biased individuals may
read this account with beetling brows or tongue-in-cheek, but
more often the book will be relinquished with the feeling that
until more information is made available, the facts have been
well stated.
W. C. HOLDEN
Texas Technological College
The Life of Sebastidn Lerdo de Tejada, 1823-1889. A Study of
Influence and Obscurity. By Frank Averill Knapp, Jr. Latin-
American Studies, XII. Austin (The University of Texas
Press), 1951. Pp. ix+292. Bibliography, illustration, index,
and map. $4.00.
Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada was rector of San Ildefonso in
Mexico City from 1852 to 1863 and minister of foreign relations
for a brief period under Ignacio Comonfort. In 1861 he entered
upon a continuous political career, beginning as deputy in Con-
gress, serving as prime minister after the French intervention,
and becoming President in 1872 with the death of Benito
Juirez. His presidency came to an end in 1876 with his flight
from the capital at the time that Porfirio Diaz came to power.
The last thirteen years of his life were spent in exile in New
York. His presidential administration was conceived in idealistic
terms: peace, liberalism, centralism, press freedom, constitutional
reform, antipathy' to factions, and respect for law. Mr. Knapp
characterizes it as the most tolerant and liberal administration
of nineteenth-century Mexico.
Nevertheless Lerdo has come to be one of the least known
and least appreciated presidents of all Mexican history. The
problems involved in reconstructing his career are numerous
and difficult. Surviving records of his pre-political activities, as
a student in Puebla and at San Ildefonso, are meager. Beyond
this the details of his private life must be pieced together in
fragments, often by inference or indirection. Mr. Knapp suggests
that the "patina of mystery" may never be fully penetrated. What
does emerge, so far as the personal figure is concerned, is a man

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101139/. Accessed December 28, 2014.