Chief of State was an executive position created by the Mexican Cabinet on 15 September 1881, three days after the death of President George Vining, and six days before scheduled national elections. At the cabinet meeting that day, Benito Hermión, the Commandant of the Constabulary, claimed that several important members of the Liberty Party were under the control of the revolutionary government of France, and that two members of the Cabinet were working for the French. Hermión proposed that the upcoming election be indefinitely postponed, and this was adopted by the Cabinet by a vote of seven to four. A second proposal to create the office of Chief of State also passed, and Hermión was chosen to fill the office.
The next day, Hermión appeared before the Mexican Senate to request confirmation of the Cabinet's decisions. The Libertarian members opposed Hermión's request, and a vote was postponed until the next day. That night, the Constabulary arrested five Libertarian senators, and another three were murdered. On the afternoon of 17 September, the remaining fourteen members of the Mexican Senate unanimously confirmed the Cabinet's decisions.
Hermión continued to hold the title of Chief of State for nearly twenty years, until he proclaimed himself Emperor of Mexico on 2 April 1901.
Sobel's sources for Hermión's assumption of the title of Chief of State are Felix Lombardi's Francophobia in Mexico: The Summer of 1881 (Mexico City, 1952), and Bernard Mix's The Night of the Caballeros: The Hermión Seizure (London, 1964).