Gonzalez, Leonides (1876–1966)

By: Nora E. Ríos McMillan

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Leonides González, business manager of La Prensa and Mexican political exile, was born in 1876, probably in Mapimí, Durango, Mexico, a bustling silver-mining center. He was mayor there and also served as a political-party chairman, having been appointed by Porfirio Díaz. As revolutionary upheaval swept Mexico in 1910, González became the target of various revolutionaries vying for control of the government after Díaz was ousted. He faced a firing squad, from which he was saved by a woman whose husband and son he had previously spared from the same fate in his capacity as party chairman. In spite of the dangerous circumstances, González sent for his wife and family to join him in Monterrey, just before Francisco (Pancho) Villa laid siege to the city. They traveled by train to Laredo, then proceeded to San Antonio, Texas, joining thousands of other Mexican political exiles. They arrived in San Antonio on February 8, 1911.

Shortly afterward, González began selling advertisements for various Spanish-language newspapers. In 1913, with the launching of La Prensa, Ignacio E. Lozano hired him as administrador, a position that included responsibilities as chief executive officer, finance director, and managing editor. According to his son, Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez, the elder González became Lozano's "alter ego." He served as business editor for the next forty years. La Prensa grew in circulation and respectability and became the voice of Mexican politicians and intellectuals who had settled in San Antonio. When Lozano established a newspaper in Los Angeles, González made the preparations and picked many of the La Prensa employees to staff it. The González home at 217 Upson Street became a meetingplace for visiting Mexican exiles. Although González was not recognized in San Antonio's social directory during this time (few Mexicans were), the family was considered among the elite of the Mexicans residing in San Antonio.

González and his family, "sojourners" in his terminology, remained Mexican citizens but never returned to Mexico, though he yearned to do so as soon as conditions improved. The situation, however, never improved enough to suit him: "Order," he said, "has not yet been restored." He especially promoted the need for education and the preservation of Mexican culture and worked with Lozano to make La Prensa one of the finest Spanish-language dailies in the United States. Lozano died in September 1953. His widow, Alicia E. Lozano, and González continued to publish the daily until June 16, 1957. Upon announcing suspension of operations Mrs. Lozano cited the decline in circulation due to "the dwindling of the non-English reading generation." She expressed hope of being able to issue a weekly edition. On July 11, 1957, González announced his resignationfrom La Prensa. He died on January 4, 1966, in San Antonio.

Richard Amado García, The Making of the Mexican-American Mind, San Antonio, Texas, 1929–1941 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California at Irvine, 1980). San Antonio Light, July 11, 1957. San Antonio Express, January 5, 1966, June 18, 1972. San Antonio Express-News, October 5–7, 1978. Texas Observer, April 11, 1980.
  • Journalism
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Politics and Government

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Nora E. Ríos McMillan, “Gonzalez, Leonides,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/gonzalez-leonides.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995

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