The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980 Page: 197
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Coerver's book is much more modest in its pretensions. His goal is to
revise the historical perception of the presidency of Manuel Gonzalez. It
is more than a rescue from oblivion and less than the carving of a mar-
ble statue in heroic mold. It is the author's contention that Gonzalez,
while hand-picked and ever loyal to Diaz, was not a stooge or an admin-
istrative front man for Diaz's administrative machinations as some have
perceived him. Others have portrayed him as the convenient scapegoat
for the political and economic ills which the country suffered at the time.
The author argues that there is an inherent contradiction in these two
views. Recognizing the importance of these four years as part of the
formative period of the Porfiriato, Coerver takes a close look at the rela-
tionship between GonzAlez and Diaz before, during, and immediately
following the former's term.
He concludes that GonzAlez was indeed running the country. Noting
that the relationship was based on a strong personal friendship as well
as a political alliance, the author argues that it underwent a gradual
change, that GonzAlez acted on Diaz's suggestions on the basis of agree-
ment rather than compulsion, and that the new president demonstrated
growing independence and self-reliance. Nevertheless, Coerver demon-
strates a remarkable continuity of policy and practice: the executive
playing a dominant role regarding the composition and conduct of Con-
gress, manipulation of the electoral process, relations with the judiciary,
states and the press control (through subsidies, indirect threats, and
overt acts), and conciliation with the Church, the military, and the lib-
eral factions. Similarly, in international relations-with the United
States, Guatemala, and Great Britain-Gonzlez followed directions
initiated or indicated by Diaz, often at considerable political risk and
cost to his popularity. In the economic area, GonzAlez pushed develop-
ment including public works, construction of railroads and telegraph
lines, reorganization of the treasury, and the stimulation of mining in-
dustry and commerce. Less successful were programs for the revitaliza-
tion of agriculture and colonization.
Finally the author details the economic collapse which with the image
of financial mismanagement and corruption did lasting damage to the
reputation of GonzAlez and his administration. Diaz, disclaiming all re-
sponsibility, returned to power benefiting from the disaster of the inter-
vening four years. It is not difficult to conclude that Diaz intended to
divorce himself from responsibility and benefit from the comparison.
Based on the circumstances-common experiences, common goals, and
common supporters-he could reasonably expect the continuity of pol-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980, periodical, 1979/1980; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101207/m1/229/: accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.