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The first chapter analyzes penny press efforts to construct and disseminate an alternative national history intended to undermine the legitimacy of the official story propagated by the authoritarian regime of President Porfirio Díaz. This counter-narrative involved appropriating and re-signifying liberal icons like Father Hidalgo and Benito Juárez as working-class heroes whose vision of an egalitarian, democratic Mexico had been subverted by self-serving, power hungry elites. This chapter and two that follow seek to illuminate the rhetorical strategies of a liberal populism that sought to bind working men together as patriotic Mexicans and put them forward as the “people,” the collective heart, soul, and backbone of the imagined national community.

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