Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857

Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States
Portada Constitucion 1857.png
Original front of the 1857 Constitution
RatifiedFebruary 5, 1857
LocationMuseo Nacional de las Intervenciones
Author(s)1857 Constituent Congress
Signatories1857 Constituent Congress
PurposeNational constitution to replace 1824 Constitution

The Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857 (Spanish: Constitución Federal de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1857) often called simply the Constitution of 1857 is the liberal constitution drafted by 1857 Constituent Congress of Mexico during the presidency of Ignacio Comonfort. It was ratified on February 5, 1857,[1] establishing individual rights such as freedom of speech; freedom of conscience; freedom of the press; freedom of assembly; and the right to bear arms. It also reaffirmed the abolition of slavery, eliminated debtor prison, and eliminated all forms of cruel and unusual punishment, including the death penalty.

Some articles were contrary to the interests of the Catholic Church, such as education free of dogma, the removal of institutional fueros (privileges) and the sale of property belonging to the church. The Conservative Party strongly opposed the enactment of the new constitution and this polarized Mexican society. The Reform War began as a result, and the struggles between liberals and conservatives were intensified with the implementation of the Second Mexican Empire under the support of the church.[2] Years later, with the restored republic, the Constitution was in force throughout the country until 1917.


Having overthrown the dictatorship of Antonio López de Santa Anna in 1855, liberal leader Juan Nepomuceno Álvarez Hurtado held the presidency for a short period. According to the established in Plan of Ayutla convened the Constituent Congress on October 16 the same year, in order to establish headquarters in Dolores Hidalgo to draft a new constitution of liberal ideology. The following year, the incumbent president, Ignacio Comonfort, endorsed the call for moving the headquarters to Mexico City.[3]

The Congress was divided between two main factions. The larger being the moderate liberals whose plan was to restore the Constitution of 1824 with some changes. It included prominent figures like Mariano Arizcorreta, Marcelino Castañeda, Joaquín Cardoso and Pedro Escudero y Echánove. The opposition was the pure liberals,[4] who wanted to make a complete new version of the constitution. Among them were Ponciano Arriaga, Guillermo Prieto, Francisco Zarco, José María Mata and Santos Degollado. The discussions were heated and lasted over a year.[3]

President Comonfort interfered, through its ministers in favor of the moderate faction, which he preferred.[5] Despite opposition from the executive branch and to be minority, 'pure liberals ensured that their proposals were included: the prohibition of purchase of property by ecclesiastical corporations, the exclusion of the clergy in public office, the abolition of ecclesiastical and military fueros[a] (Juárez Law), and freedom of religion.

These reforms were contrary to the interests of the Catholic Church. During the course of sessions in Congress, an insurrection in favor of the clergy supported by conservative, the staunchest opponents of the Liberals, gathered force in Zacapoaxtla and Puebla. Comonfort sent federal troops, and the rebels were subjected.[6]

Finally, the Constitution was promulgated on February 5, 1857,[7] under the threats of the clergy that who swore the Constitution would be excommunicated.[8]