The World's Shortest Serving President

The National Palace, in Mexico City, is official seat of Executive Power.
The National Palace, in Mexico City, is official seat of Executive Power.

Different political systems in different countries allow for varying lengths of terms of political leaders such as presidents. However, some leaders are not so fortunate as to see through their terms for one reason or another. Some of them are assassinated, such as John F. Kennedy of the United States, while others pass away before their political terms end. One such president was President Pedro José Domingo de la Calzada Manuel María Lascuráin Paredes of Mexico whose term lasted for less than an hour.

Early Life and Career

President Lascuráin was born in the year 1856 in Mexico City to Ana Paredes Cortés and Francisco Lascuráin Icaza. In 1880, he earned his law degree from the Escuela Nacional de Jurisprudencia (meaning National School of Jurisprudence) situated in Mexico City. In 1910, the president became the mayor of Mexico City where he became a supporter of Francisco I. Madero. Later on, after Madero became the president of Mexico, Lascuráin served two spells as the foreign minister in Madero’s cabinet. One term was between April 10, 1912 and December 4, 1912, while the other was between January 15, 1913 and February 19, 1913. In between his periods as the foreign minister, he became Mexico City’s mayor again.

Shortest Presidency in the World

Unlike other presidents who don’t see their terms primarily because of death or diseases, Lascuráin’s was different. Mexico had a coup on February 19, 1913, which was led by General Victoriano Huerta. While being held prisoner by the general at the National Palace, Lascuráin was among several people who helped to convince Madero to give up the presidency. The alternative was death for President Madero.

Every constitution has an outline of those in line to assume the presidency in case anything occurs. Under the Mexican constitution of that time, the vice president, the foreign secretary, the attorney general, and the interior secretary were all in line. However, the general had to also take care of the vice president and the attorney general thus making Lascuráin the next in line for the presidency.

The general wanted to make the coup appear as a completely legal process. To accomplish this, he had Lascuráin become the 34th president of Mexico and then have him appoint the general as the interior secretary. Effectively, that appointment made the general the legal person who would be next in line for the presidency. After the appointment, Lascuráin resigned his post thus paving the way for General Huerta to become President Huerta.

The exact period of President Lascuráin’s presidency is unknown, but it is known for a fact that it was less than one hour. Some sources estimate that it lasted between 15 and 56 minutes. Despite his resignation, Huerta had Madero and the vice president put to death. Those dark days came to be known as "La decena trágica" which translates to ten days of tragedy.

Late Life and Death

Huerta offered Lascuráin a cabinet post which he declined. Upon his retirement from politics, he started practicing law again until his demise at the age of 96 on July 21, 1952.


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