|Abraham Lincoln and Benito Jaurez in the Governor's Palace in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.|
It was 150 years ago this month that President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Apart from the great things he accomplished as president, few people realize that President Lincoln was also one of the biggest supporters of Mexico's president at the time, Benito Jaurez (1806-1872). President Jaurez is considered one of Mexico's greatest icons - their George Washington and Thomas Jefferson - and perhaps their greatest president (I would agree).
President Juarez was chased across Mexico by France's imperial army, and was considered a political nuisance to Mexico's "king" from 1864 through 1867, the Austrian monarch Maximiliano Joseph. The United States, under the direction of President Lincoln (then Andrew Johnson), supported Benito Jaurez' claim to the presidency because both nations stood for the same ideas. In particular, both countries stood together in their opposition to European intrigue in the Americas.
In the end, Maximilian was captured and shot in Queretaro, Mexico. A statue of Benito Jaurez stands on the site where Maximilian was executed.
If this story intrigues you, you're not alone. We need to know more about this relationship, and President Lincoln's role in standing up for Mexico's sovereignty, even while he was consumed with managing the Civil War at home.
And, yes, at a time when relations between Mexico and the United States are often strained by petty provincialism, President Lincoln should be recognized for helping to bring both countries closer together in difficult times.