Jesús Jiménez was born in the city of Santiago, Costa Rica, on June 18, 1823. He  received his preliminary education in Cartago and was later graduated from the University of Guatemala with a Degree of Doctor in Medicine and Surgery. Still very young, he was appointed Governor of the province of Cartago and, on several occasions, as representative in Congress displayed his various knowledge and liberal, progressive outlook.

During the administration of President José María Montealegre, Jiménez was Minister of State and in his post he distinguished himself for his unselfish desire for the general well-being of Costa Rica.  As the end of Montealegre’ s term drew near, the resentment of Juan Rafael Mora’s friends, who never forgot the retiring President’s connections with the coup d’état, which deposed their hero, evidenced strong feelings. Two candidates for office appeared. A difficult political disagreement loomed ahead to avoid which, all parties agreed on Jiménez as a compromise candidate. Assuming office on May, 7, 1863, whereupon Jiménez pursued a conciliatory policy, maintaining peace and accomplishing considerable progress in improving transport facilities.

At the expiration of his term he was succeeded by José María Castro, whose administration collapsed on November 1, 1868, whereupon Jimenez was re-elected President late in 1868. He continued his former policy in regard to establishing broader facilities for public education and after having engaged several prominent educators from Europe, he succeeded in having legislation passed providing for free but compulsory education. This was one of the early steps, which resulted in Costa Rica, during later years, holding one of the highest ranks for literacy among the Latin American republics.

In transportation improvements he likewise renewed his former vigour and when the Congress refused to pass a certain railroad bill, he resigned and left the Capital. His resignation, however, was not accepted and he returned. Due to threatened internal disturbances Congress suspended the Constitution. A small group of men, including Próspero Fernández, in a coup de main captured the artillery barracks of San José on April 27, 1870. Jiménez and his ministers were detained to answer charges, which were preferred against them. Before they were prepared Jiménez escaped and after Tomás Guardia, the next President, was installed Jiménez was granted full amnesty, retired to private life and died about 1898.