Melchor Ocampo


Among critics of the Roman Catholic Church in a country where the majority of citizens are nominal Catholics , the most frequently heard charges are related to worldliness and hypocrisy . The anticlericals point to the wealth of the Church and the reluctance of the same to use that wealth to alleviate the sufferings of the poor , and the priests who advise chastity while directing decidedly impure acts. This brings us to Melchor Ocampo , a 19th century Mexican statesman who combined the roles of political leaderand scientist and who furiously attacked the privileged position of the Church .


Personal information

  • When was he born: 01/05/1814
  • Where he was born: Maravatío, Mexico
  • When he died: 06/03/1861
  • Where he died: Tepeji del Río de Ocampo, Mexico

Who was Melchor Ocampo?

He was the leader of the generation of liberals that ended the era of the saints as well as being the co – author of the Laws of the Reformation . Great defender of the separation that should exist between the Church and the State .

  • What did
  • Biography of Melchor Ocampo
  • Death
  • Political activity
  • Thought of Melchor Ocampo
  • Personality
  • Physical characteristics
  • Family
  • Importance
  • Melchor Ocampo quotes
  • Acknowledgments

What did

Melchor Ocampo became governor when the US invasion occurred in 1846, he organized a group of guerrillas and refused to sign the peace treaty through which Mexico had lost practically half of its territory. He stood out for being a politician who defended the liberal cause and participated directly in the elaboration of the Laws of the Reform . He was also part of the Constituent Congress where he was part of the commission in charge of writing the Constitution of 1857 .

Biography of Melchor Ocampo

Melchor Ocampo was born on January 5, 1814 in the Hacienda del Pateo , a place located in the Maravatío Valley , Michoacán . As a child, he was educated by Francisca Javiera Tapia , who was in turn his adoptive mother . It was through her that he managed to study until he achieved a degree in law . When Dona Francisca died, he inherited the family assets , so he was able to dedicate himself to his studies of philosophy , botany and lexicography . He was engaged in scientific research , he was alsonaturalist, philosopher, teacher, writer, economist and statesman.

He first studied at the Catholic seminary in Morelia, Michoacán, and later studied Law at the Colegio Seminario de México, graduating as a lawyer . He began to work in a law firm in 1833, and in 1840 he traveled to France , where he was influenced by the liberal and anticlerical ideas of the Enlightenment . Some time later he returned to Mexico to practice his profession, although at that time he devoted himself completely to the study of botany , fauna and local agriculture . Melchor Ocampo was also a statesman and a politician who developed an important work as a statesman.


A command that was led by Lindoro Cajigas appeared in Pomoca and took Melchor Ocampo prisoner. They then transferred him on foot to Tepeji del Río , handing him over to Zuloaga and Márquez . He was shot on June 3 , 1861 despite the pleas of many influential people in the capital, including the French minister.

Political activity

After the Ayutla revolution triumphed, he was appointed by President Álvarez as the head of his cabinet and secretary of state, but he resigned because he did not agree with the policy of the Secretary of War, Comonfort. He was a deputy from Michoacán on two occasions, Prime Minister of the Cabinet of President Benito Juárez, Senator of the Republic for the same state, Minister of Finance of President José Joaquín Herrera, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Juan Álvarez and Constituent Deputy in 1857.

He participated in the creation of the law on the reforms of the tariff of parochial obtaining together with Benito Juárez as president and Miguel Lerdo De Tejada as minister of finance. They managed to nationalize the goods of the clergy , creating an independence between the state and the church and perfecting the laws of civil marriage , the civil registry, the secularization of cemeteries and the law on freedom of worship .

It was also part of the drafting of the civil laws that would be responsible for giving meaning to liberal politics and that in the end would end up reforming the Constitution of 1857 to make civil and political businesses independent from ecclesiastical ones. On December 14, 1859, on the orders of Juárez, he signed the controversial McLane-Ocampo Treaty with the United States , through which Mexico gave the United States army and merchandise the right of transit in perpetuity through some parts of Mexican territory. .

Thought of Melchor Ocampo

Melchor Ocampo thought that education should be based on the basic postulates that liberalism had , on democracy and the rule of the majority . He also believed in tolerance , in the equality that all citizens had before the law, in respect for civil authority and in the suppression of privileges . In addition, he considered the need to separate the Catholic Church from the government and the State .


His biographers remember him as a courteous , calm , benevolent , indulgent and resigned man with all things; less in his political ideas with which he was uncompromising . He was passionate about freedom who always found himself fighting for this cause.

Physical characteristics

Although it is not counted by historians an accurate description of Melchor Ocampo, some describe him as a man tall , slender , with strong features , with lank hair black like his eyes.


He had a relationship with Ana María Escobar who had been Ocampo’s nanny and maternal figure, and who gave him the news that she was expecting a daughter of hers. When the girl was born she was sent to a boarding school and thus the life of Melchor Ocampo’s daughter, whose name was Josefa, developed . Later, he decided to take her with him and from that moment on he was the one who gave color to his life. He had three more daughters named Petra, Julia and Lucila but the identity of the mother is not known .


Melchor Ocampo was one of the drafters of the Reform Laws , with which it was possible to separate the Church from the State. One of his main contributions was the legacy promulgated by the decree instituting civil marriage in Mexico, a law that became known as Ley Ocampo. In addition, it was one of the precursors of the modern State through the laws and decrees with which it managed to separate the church from the State in the Mexican nation.

Melchor Ocampo quotes

Some of his most recognized phrases were the following:

  • Being liberal takes a lot of work, since you need the courage to be a man in everything.
  • The experience is not acquired by the simple accumulation of years, but by the reflection of the events.
  • How long will the man who thinks be more esteemed than the man who kills !
  • It is by talking to each other, not killing ourselves, that we will understand each other.


In honor of Melchor Ocampo, his home state is known by the name of Michoacán de Ocampo , as the Maravatío de Ocampo city . The theater that is located in the state capital, Teatro Ocampo de Morelia, also bears his name. In the Primitive and National School of San Nicolás de Hidalgo de Morelia, located in Michoacán , you can find a special classroom in which are a series of objects that belonged to him, as well as his private library.

Leave a Comment