Today in History: Mexico's Legendary President, Benito Juárez, is Born

Today is Monday, March 21, the 80th day of 2011. There are 285 days left in the year.

On March 21, 1806, Mexican statesman Benito Juárez was born in the state of Oaxaca.

Did You Know?

Benito Juárez is known as a national hero of Mexico. He was the president of Mexico (1861–72), who, for three years (1864–67), fought against foreign occupation by the French emperor Maximilian. 

Juárez is remembered as being a progressive reformer dedicated to democracy, equal rights for his nation's indigenous peoples, lessening the great power of the Roman Catholic Church over Mexican politics, and the defense of national sovereignty.

According to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, President Lincoln and Mexican President Benito Juárez established a cross-border friendship during trying times for both nations. It is not known exactly when Juárez came to Lincoln's attention, but in 1861, Lincoln sent him a message expressing hope "for the liberty of ... your government and its people.” The bond between the two leaders was strengthened when Lincoln supported Juárez’s resistance efforts against France, which had invaded Mexico and captured Mexico City in 1863.

President Juárez helped President Lincoln through his commitment to refuse support to the Confederate states.

Ciudad Juárez was named after Benito Juárez. Mexico City International Airport was formally named Benito Juárez in 2006. Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini was named after Juárez.

Statues of President Juárez can be seen throughout the United States, including in New York City and Chicago.

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