Lerdo de Tejada, Miguel

Lerdo de Tejada, Miguel mēgĕlˈ lĕrˈᵺō dā tāhäˈᵺä [key], d. 1861, Mexican liberal statesman, a leader of the Revolution of Ayutla, cabinet member under Juan Álvarez. As minister under Comonfort, he initiated the Ley Lerdo (1856), a law providing for the forced sale of all real property of the Roman Catholic Church. He helped draft the constitution of 1857 and later drew up a law nationalizing church property. His laws, disastrous failures in his day, were essential parts of the reforms of Benito Juárez. His younger brother, Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, 1820?–1889, also an important liberal in the Revolution of Ayutla, was for years a close associate of Juárez. He succeeded as provisional president after the death of Juárez (1872). A revolt under Porfirio Díaz, begun in 1871, was put down. The reform laws were incorporated in the constitution (1874). Order was restored for a time, but when, in 1876, Lerdo procured the consent of congress to his continuance in office, a new revolt began, again led by Porfirio Díaz. Lerdo's forces were defeated, and he fled to New York City, where he died.

See biography by F. A. Knapp (1951, repr. 1968).

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