José Santiago Vidaurri Valdez (1808–1867) was a controversial and powerful governor of the Mexican state of Nuevo León between 1855 and 1864. His tenure was marked by secessionist ambitions and an unparalleled commerce with the Confederate States of America.
Originally a supporter of President Benito Juarez, he broke with Juarez and established the Republica Sierra Madre.
Paradoxically, Vidaurri began his public career in jail. The oldest reference of his presence in Monterey is the January 12, 1832 consignment against him made by the chief commander of the state to the mayor of the city. The young Vidaurri, 24 years old, was accused of having severed the left hand of a soldier, Juan Olivares of the Lampazos company, with a knife during a fight.
He was at a bar with friends when Juan Olivares, an unruly soldier, began causing trouble. Juan started harassing the town drunk – who was defenseless and belligerent. Vidaurri, seeing the situation escalate, stepped in – knowing that if he stood by and watched, Juan would end up killing the poor man.
The brawl between Vidaurri and the soldier was hard-fought and grueling. Santiago Vidaurri’s intention was not to kill Olivares but to simply render him powerless. He did not believe in wasting human life and struggled not to injure Juan. Olivares had other intentions – he wanted to kill Vidaurri. Vidaurri was given no choice but to sever Juan Olivares' hand; it was in self-defense. That evening, there were men at the bar who disliked Santiago; they later testified to his disadvantage.
During a conversation, Santiago overheard the prison guards debating over a letter the warden had dictated to them. Offering his services, mainly because he was bored, Santiago wrote their letter. After Santiago Vidaurri was released, he was given the job of chief clerk in the municipal jail. It did not take long for him to receive more responsibility; he started signing official documents in lieu of Don Pedro de Valle.
In 1837 Santiago was promoted to secretary-general to Joaquin Garcia – Mexico found herself once again in turmoil, in 1841 a group of Generals ousted President Busamantes and replaced the Governor of Nuevo León with Manuela Maria Llano – Santiago then became his secretary and was chosen by General Arista to spy for the Santa Fe expedition. This expedition was sponsored by President Mirabeau B. Lamar. The purpose was to divert the Santa Fe Trail into Texas and establish control over New Mexico. Santiago proved to be very efficient as he was in everything he undertook.
The revolution of Ayutla began in the early months of 1855 – it was a movement based on the declaration of independence and the liberal constitution of 1824. It was written by Juan Alvarez and Ignacio Commonfort.
It was during this time that Santiago developed influence over a group of political newcomers – he often met in secret with Antonio Rosales and other liberal leaders. Their group included Ignacio Zaragoza, José Silvestre Aramberri, Lázaro Garza Ayala, Francisco Naranjo and Juan Zuazua. The reason for these secret meetings was because everyone was tired of the unstable government that plagued the northern states. Their chief aim was to rid Mexico of the negative influences that took advantage of the poverty-stricken population. Santiago was a leader by birth – he was appointed the groups political chief.
The momentum for Ayutla began slowly as Antonio López de Santa Anna was desperately clinging to his position. He was hoping to discredit the liberals with anticlericalism. The revolution of Ayutla then gained the necessary speed it needed when it was joined by Santos Degollado and Manuel Doblado.
Santiago never to miss an opportunity along with Juan Zuazua issued out a plan “Restaudor de la Libertad.” On May 22, 1855 Santiago was proclaimed Governor and military commander of Nuevo León and Juan Zuazua was appointed Colonial of the states army. This became the beginning of El Vidaurrismo, it was more than just a political movement, and it was a way of thinking a way of life.
Santiago’s aim was to bring possession of soils and the liberty to all of the Republic – he proceeded to establish himself in local and national politics. Los Vidaurristas, together with Coahuila and Tamaulipas established a new state in Feb 12 1856.
Santiago grew up to have more power than anyone including his family would have ever imagined. He had sole control of Coahuila, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Chihuahua and Durango. And on February 19, 1856, he annexed Coahuila into that of Nuevo León. He had complete power over Northern Mexico – more than any man hoped to ever have H. Once Ayutla was established he began his attention on frontier politics. He was a political and economic liberal, which was unheard of. In the 19th century most liberals were usually one or the other. Santiago was progressive and favored federalism and admired the government of the United States and used it as a role model for his Northern States.
Mexican constitution of 1857 recognized the region of the northeast as an autonomous federal state.
He knew that trade with Texas was more profitable and promoted stable trade, growing commerce. He believed in taking individual initiative and free economy from government interference.
His daughter, Prudenciana Vidaurri, married on April 23, 1857, businessman Patrick Milmo O'Dowd, of Irish descent, from whose marriage Patricio Milmo Vidaurri was born, who would marry Patricia Hickman Morales.
Patricio and Patricia become the parents of Laura Milmo Hickman, wife of Emilio Azcarraga Vidaurreta, pioneer of Mexican television and one of the founders of the company Televisa. Emilio and Laura were the parents of famous Mexican entrepreneur Emilio Azcarraga Milmo, father in turn of the current board president of Grupo Televisa, Emilio Azcarraga Jean.
- LosVidaurri.com (Vidaurri Family portal)
- Guillermo Prieto - Lecciones de historia Patria