Gómez Farías, Valentín (1781-1858)
He was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco on February 14, 1781
ass the child of a well -to-do family. . After studying in his native city, he
went to the University of Guadalajara to earn his medical degree. He was a
successful physician in Aguascalientes, so much so that he acquired a sizable
personal library. He married López on October 4, 1817 and together they had six
children. He became a municipal councilmen in Aguascalientes. He was a delegate
to the Cortés in Spain in Cádiz in 1812. In this liberal congress, he
spoke in favor of the independence of Mexico.
He returned in 1822 after independence had been declared and
was elected a deputy to the Constituent Congress where he was an Agustín
Iturbide sympathizer. The next year, after Iturbide was exiled, he was a
member of the congress which began on November 7, 1823 was signed the
Constitution of 1824. He supported the election of Guadalupe Victoria
president for 1824-1828 and then supported Vicente Guerrero and
His political career prospered. He became secretary general
and then vice governor of the state. He became a federal congressman and
advocated colonization of sparsely-populated territories such as Texas. He
opposed slavery, however. He became finance minister under Gómez
Pedraza. Later, he was vice president of the country. .In 1833, he became
the vice president with Antonio Santa Anna de López as president. Since Santa
Anna was only a liberal because he was an opportunist, he hedged his bets by
pleading illness and leaving Gómez Farías as acting president.
Never one to shun his principles, Gómez Farías and the
other liberals passed the "Laws of '33" in an attempt to provide
equality before the law and declawing the old conservative, colonial institutions.
The Royal and Pontifical University was closed and the professional schools were
spun off as independent, secular institutions. Peninsular Spaniards were
expelled. They tried to curtail the privileges of the army officers and of the
church. On June 1, 1833, army officers rose in revolt in favor of "religion
and fueros" ( privileges) but failed. Emboldened, the Gómez Farías
government secularized the church missions in California, forbade priests from
charging for the administering of the sacraments, and abolished compulsory
On December 4, 1834, Santa Anna turned against him. By April,
he was assuring the clergy that they would be protected. By May, he resumed the
presidency to "save" the country from "godless atheists." Gómez
Farías took refuge in New Orleans, Louisiana.
He returned from exile in 1838 and was greeted as a hero. The
conservative Bustamante government feared the demonstrations in his favor and
jailed him but his followers successfully demanded his release. In 1840,
he supported the unsuccessful uprising of General Urrea and as exiled to
New York until 1845.
After he returned once again to Mexico, he was elected a
federal senator. In 1846, he became Finance minister for a month so that he
could abolish the alcabala. In December of that year, he and Santa
Anna were named vice president and president if the country, respectively.
When Santa Anna went to fight General Zachary Taylor in the Mexican-American
War, Gómez Farías became acting president. Conservatives were unhappy
and complained. When Santa Anna returned to Mexico City in 1847 in the
face of General Winfield Scott invasion, Santa Anna replaced Gómez Farías as
president. The latter had a congressional seat, so he still had a voice.
Resistance to the US proved fruitless.
He retired to private life until the Liberals sent Santa Anna
into exile in 1855. He became postmaster and a deputy from Jalisco. He helped
draft the Constitution of 1857.
He died on June 5, 1858.
Based on Juan López de Escalera, Diccionario Biográfico y de Historia de
México. México, Editorial del Magisterio, 1964. pp. 427-8.