Free Traders and Capitalists


in Mexico

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780520262355
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947528 | DOI:
Free Traders and Capitalists

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The nineteenth century, celebrated as the glorious age of independence and the Reforma, handed over the National Palace to exuberant disciples of José María Luis Mora, a dyed-in-the-wool free trader, and the English ideologues Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Capitalists and free traders, more and more of them mestizos, sat at the helm of the ship of state. Their ascendancy set the stage for the thirty-year rule of Porfirio Díaz, an era of neocolonialism, Social Darwinism, and pomposity. The United States intervened officiously in Mexican affairs. The Liberal Party, the voice of capitalism and free trade, owes its life to Benito Juárez, who is associated with the Reforma and its aftermath. The Reforma was both an epic success and a colossal failure. It separated church and state, gave Mexico the trappings of a modern capitalist republic, and conferred political power on a largely mestizo class. All the same, the Reforma worsened the iniquitous distribution of wealth and income, and bestowed undeserved perks on mining moguls, merchants, and hacendados beholden to the export economy.

Keywords: Mexico; independence; free trade; capitalism; Reforma; Liberal Party; María Luis Mora; mestizos; Porfirio Díaz; export economy

Chapter.  11218 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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