What is the "Porfiriato" as described in The Course of Mexican History?

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The term "Porfiriato" refers to the years 1876–1911 in Mexico, when General José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was in power. For most of this time, Porfirio Díaz was serving as president, which he did for seven terms, from 1877–1880 and again from 1884–1911. This term is now well-established and is commonly used by historians, including Deeds, Meyer, and Sherman in The Course of Mexican History, the standard textbook on the topic in American schools. However, the word was coined long after the period it describes by the Mexican historian Daniel Cosío Villegas, who was born in 1898, during the Porfiriato, and wrote several books on the period in the 1950s and 1960s.

Beginning with his second term in 1884, Porfirio Díaz was effectively a dictator, with no real political opposition of any kind. However, he is generally regarded as a relatively benign dictator, who imposed order while maintaining liberal social policies. The Mexican economy developed rapidly during the Porfiriato, with great improvements in transport and communications, notably the construction of railways, with telegraph lines built alongside the tracks. There were also significant improvements in education and healthcare. In retrospect, the Porfiriato is often seen as a golden age when compared to the chaos and bloodshed of the Mexican Revolution which followed it.

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