Odious and Peculiar

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References
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The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire
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Friday, March 21, 2008
 
Today is the birthday of Benito Pablo Juárez García, about whom I'm ashamed to admit I knew nothing. On a whim, I looked him up on Wikipedia, and found him to be, at least on the surface, an admirable fellow.
Juárez was born in the small village of San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, located in the mountain range now known as the "Sierra Juárez." His parents, Marcelino Juárez and Brígida García were peasants who died when he was three years old. He described his parents as "Amerindians of the primitive race of the country." He worked in the corn fields and as a shepherd until the age of 12. On December 17, 1818, he walked to the city of Oaxaca looking to educate himself and find a better life. At the time he was illiterate and could not speak Spanish, only Zapotec.

In the city he had a sister who worked as a cook and there, he took a job as a domestic servant and eagerly made up for his lack of education. A lay Franciscan, Antonio Salanueva, was impressed with young Benito's intelligence and thirst for learning, and arranged for his placement at the city's seminary. He studied there but decided to pursue law rather than the priesthood. He graduated from the seminary in 1827 and went on to gain a degree in law.
Aside from seizing Church properties, he seemed to have been industrious, honorable, and dedicated.

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