Pedro Lascuráin: The Man Who Was Mexico's President for Only 45 Minutes

Pedro Lascuráin, Mexico's unlikely president.
Pedro Lascuráin, Mexico's unlikely president.
George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When a politician is elected to their country’s highest office, it’s usually for a considerable period of time. Prior to the two-term limit for the presidency of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt served for 12 years from 1933 to 1945. Nursultan Nazarbayev led Kazakhstan from 1990 until 2019. Denis Sassou Nguesso has been president of the Republic of the Congo since 1997—and even served from 1979 to 1992 prior to that.

And then there's Pedro Lascuráin, who was president of Mexico for roughly 45 minutes in 1913. (Though some say his time in office was even shorter than that.)

You Say You Want a Revolution ...

Lascuráin’s abbreviated tenure, which might be the shortest presidential term ever served, was completely intentional. As a onetime mayor of Mexico City and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for President Francisco I. Madero, Lascuráin was in the country's political circles when a Mexican general named Victoriano Huerta decided to use him as a pawn in a political coup. Lascuráin was next in line for presidential succession if anything should happen to Madero. Huerta knew this, and also knew he could persuade Lascuráin to be his accomplice.

Madero was a reformist politician who had opposed the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, a leader who had encouraged an imbalance of wealth among the population that led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910. To avoid being voted out, Díaz had Madero jailed during the 1910 election. After Madero escaped, he argued the election was fraudulent and encouraged an armed revolution that led to Díaz being forced out of office and Madero taking over in 1911.

Huerta had put down rebellions against Madero, but at some point his position changed. Together with Díaz’s nephew, Félix Díaz, Huerta planned a coup. The two staged a mock battle to indicate unrest in Mexico, though the civilian casualties were real. A critical figure in all of this was U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, who disliked Madero and was all too eager to see a new regime—by some accounts, even tacitly condoning Madero’s removal and witnessing the signing of a pact between Huerta and Díaz without the knowledge or approval of U.S. President William Howard Taft.

One Day, Three Presidents

According to one version, Lascuráin—as a representative of Huerta—approached Madero and discussed Huerta’s desire to see him out of office. Madero agreed, providing his resignation was held by the Minister of Chile until Madero and vice president José María Pino Suárez were safely aboard a ship, named Cuba, in Veracruz and away from the violent hands of Huerta.

Unfortunately, Lascuráin did not honor the agreement, having been convinced by Huerta that no harm would come to Madero. Once the resignation was written, Lascuráin delivered it to Huerta, leaving Madero without any leverage. Within days, both Madero and Suárez were killed, ostensibly to eliminate any threat of a revolution.

The resignations of Madero and Suárez left Lascuráin next in line to assume the office of the presidency on February 19, 1913. Upon doing so, Huerta ordered Lascuráin to appoint Huerta as cabinet minister, who would be—as you’ve likely guessed—next in line for office.

With his administration’s goals achieved in a speedy 45 minutes, Lascuráin promptly resigned, allowing Huerta to take over as leader at around 11:25 p.m. that evening. Huerta remained in power through 1914 before rebellion led him into exile. He died January 13, 1916, of cirrhosis of the liver. Lascuráin died in 1952.

This startling series of events meant that on February 19, Mexico technically had three presidents holding office within a single day.

A New Ruth Bader Ginsburg Bobblehead Is Available for Pre-Order

The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum

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The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a devout champion for feminism and civil rights, and her influence stretched from the halls of the Supreme Court to the forefront of popular culture, where she affectionately became known as the Notorious RBG. Though there are plenty of public tributes planned for Ginsburg in the wake of her passing, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum has a new RBG bobblehead ($25) available for pre-order so you can honor her in your own home.

There are two versions of the bobblehead available, one of Ginsburg smiling and another with a more serious expression. Not only do the bobbleheads feature her in her Supreme Court black robe, but eagle-eyed fans will see she is wearing one for her iconic coded collars and her classic earrings.

RBG is far from the only American icon bobblehead that the Hall of Fame store has produced in such minute detail. They also have bobbleheads of Abraham Lincoln ($30), Theodore Roosevelt ($30), Alexander Hamilton ($30), and dozens of others.

For more information on the RBG bobblehead, head here. Shipments will hopefully be sent out by December 2020 while supplies last.

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100 Years Later, the Story of Florida’s Ocoee Massacre—an Election Day Attack on Black Citizens—Is Finally Being Told

Courtesy of Orange County Regional History Center
Courtesy of Orange County Regional History Center

The bloodiest Election Day in the history of the United States is a story many Americans have never heard. On November 2, 1920, the day of the U.S. presidential election, a white mob attacked a Black neighborhood in the city of Ocoee, Florida. Now, the story of the Ocoee Massacre is being told in a new museum exhibition for its 100-year anniversary, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The exhibit, titled "Yesterday, This Was Home: The Ocoee Massacre of 1920,” is now on display at the Orange County Regional History Center in Downtown Orlando. It examines what the museum calls "the largest incident of voting-day violence in United States history."

On November 2, 1920, a black labor broker named Moses Norman attempted to vote in what is now Ocoee, only to be turned away when he didn't pay the $1 poll tax. He returned later that day to attempt to vote again, and this time his persistence caught the attention of local Ku Klux Klan members.

Knowing his actions had provoked anger, Norman fled town. A mob of armed white men went to the home of his friend July Perry that night while searching for him. Perry, a fellow labor broker, was 50 years old and had been involved in civic activities like registering more Black citizens to vote. Sha’Ron Cooley McWhite, Perry's great niece, told the Orlando Sentinel that his bravery and activism likely made him a target for white supremacists.

July PerryCourtesy of Orange County Regional History Center

The confrontation at Perry's home led to a shootout and ended with the mob capturing Perry and lynching him. The violence raged in the Black neighborhood throughout the night. By morning, the mob of 250 had burned down 22 homes and two churches and murdered dozens of Black residents.

Like many tragedies suffered by Black communities in U.S. history, the story of the Ocoee Massacre is not widely known. Poor record-keeping and intentional suppression of the news has left historians with an incomplete picture of exactly what happened that night. The Orange County Regional History Center had to collect land records, written reports, and oral histories to recount the event in depth.

"Yesterday, This Was Home: The Ocoee Massacre of 1920” is on display at the Orange County Regional History Center now through February 14, 2021.

[h/t Orlando Sentinel]