Francisco de Paula Santander

Last updated
Francisco de Paula Santander
Santander by Acevedo Bernal.jpg
Oil painting by Ricardo Acevedo Bernal.
4th President of the Republic of the New Granada
In office
October 7, 1832 April 1, 1837
Preceded by José Ignacio de Márquez
Succeeded by José Ignacio de Márquez
Vice President of the Republic of Colombia
In office
November 3, 1821 September 19, 1827
President Simón Bolívar
Preceded by Francisco Antonio Zea
Succeeded by Juan German Roscio
Personal details
Francisco José de Paula Santander y Omaña

(1792-04-02)2 April 1792
Cúcuta, Norte de Santander Viceroyalty of New Granada (present-day Colombia)
Died6 March 1840(1840-03-06) (aged 47)
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Republic of New Granada (present-day Colombia)
Nationality Neogranadine
Political party Federalist
Spouse(s)Sixta Tulia Pontón y Piedrahita
ChildrenFrancisco de Paula Jesús Bartolomé
Alma mater Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé Universidad santo Tomás

Francisco José de Paula Santander y Omaña (Villa del Rosario de Cúcuta, Colombia, April 2, 1792 Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia, May 6, 1840), was a Colombian military and political leader during the 18101819 independence war of the United Provinces of New Granada (present-day Colombia). He was the acting President of Gran Colombia between 1819 and 1826, and later elected by Congress as the President of the Republic of New Granada between 1832 and 1837. Santander came to be known as "The Man of the Laws" ("El Hombre de las Leyes"). [1]

Cúcuta Municipality of Colombia in Norte de Santander

Cúcuta, officially San José de Cúcuta, is a Colombian city, capital of Norte de Santander department. It is located in the northeast of the country, in the eastern branch of the Colombian Andes, on the border with Venezuela. Cúcuta has a population of approximately 750,000 people according to the 2005-2020 census, making it the 6th largest city in the country. Due to its proximity with Venezuela, Cúcuta is an important commercial center, hosting many billion dollar companies. The international border in Cúcuta is said to be the most dynamic of South America. The city has a length of 12 kilometres from north to south and 11 kilometres from east to west. It is divided into 10 communes and it is the political, economic, administrative, industrial, cultural and tourism hub of the Norte de Santander department.

Colombia Country in South America

Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a sovereign state largely situated in the northwest of South America, with territories in North America. Colombia shares a border to the west with Panama, to the east with Brazil and Venezuela, and to the south with Ecuador and Peru. It shares its maritime limits with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Colombia is a unitary, constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments, with the capital in Bogotá.

Bogotá Capital city of Colombia

Bogotá, officially Bogotá, Distrito Capital, abbreviated Bogotá, D.C., and formerly known as Santafé/Santa Fe de Bogotá between 1991 and 2000, is the capital and largest city of Colombia, administered as the Capital District, although often erroneously thought of as part of Cundinamarca. Bogotá is a territorial entity of the first order, with the same administrative status as the departments of Colombia. It is the political, economic, administrative and industrial center of the country.



Santander was born in Villa del Rosario, Norte de Santander, on April 2, 1792. His parents were Juan Agustín Santander Colmenares who was governor of the rural province of San Faustino de los Ríos as well as a cocoa grower, and his mother; Manuela Antonia de Omaña Rodríguez. Both were descendants of aristocratic Spanish families who had settled in the New Kingdom of Granada. He was a freemason [2] . He died due to gallstones in Santa Fe de Bogotá, Cundinamarca, on March 6, 1840. [3]

Villa del Rosario is the name of several places:

New Kingdom of Granada Venezuela and Colombia in the Spanish Empire

The New Kingdom of Granada, or Kingdom of the New Granada, was the name given to a group of 16th-century Spanish colonial provinces in northern South America governed by the president of the Audiencia of Santa Fe, an area corresponding mainly to modern-day Colombia, Panama and Venezuela. The conquistadors originally organized it as a captaincy general within the Viceroyalty of Peru. The crown established the audiencia in 1549. Ultimately the kingdom became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada first in 1717 and permanently in 1739. After several attempts to set up independent states in the 1810s, the kingdom and the viceroyalty ceased to exist altogether in 1819 with the establishment of Gran Colombia.

Cundinamarca Department (1824) former departments of Gran Colombia

Cundinamarca Department was one of the departments of Gran Colombia. It was part of the Centro District.

Military career

Water Color of General Santander by Master Santiago Martinez Delgado General Santander Martinez Delgado.jpg
Water Color of General Santander by Master Santiago Martinez Delgado

A law student, he began his military career at the young age of eighteen, following the establishment of juntas in 1810, which began the process of independence in New Granada. Santander enlisted in the revolutionary army in October 1810, in the battalion the National Guard ("Guardias Nacionales"). [1] He first served as a soldier in army of the federalist United Provinces of New Granada, under the command of General Antonio Baraya, that fought against General Antonio Nariño, of the Province of Cundinamarca, who had refused to recognize the authority of the Union. [4] During these campaigns Santander achieved the rank of colonel in 1812. After the royalist forces re-conquered New Granada, Santander like many other New Granadan officers retreated to the plains east of the Cordillera Oriental, the Llanos, near the modern Venezuelan border. There, Santander joined forces with Venezuelan patriots and operated under the command of Simón Bolívar. During the military campaign across the Andes, Bolívar promoted Santander to Brigadier General in 1817. [4]

Law System of rules and guidelines, generally backed by governmental authority

Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

In the Napoleonic era, junta was the name chosen by several local administrations formed in Spain during the Peninsular War as a patriotic alternative to the official administration toppled by the French invaders. The juntas were usually formed by adding prominent members of society, such as prelates, to the already-existing ayuntamientos. The juntas of the capitals of the traditional peninsular kingdoms of Spain styled themselves "Supreme Juntas", to differentiate themselves from, and claim authority over, provincial juntas. Juntas were also formed in Spanish America during this period in reaction to the developments in Spain.

Spanish American wars of independence Series of armed conflicts in the Americas between 1808 and 1835

The Spanish American wars of independence were the numerous wars against Spanish rule in Spanish America with the aim of political independence that took place during the early 19th century, after the French invasion of Spain during Europe's Napoleonic Wars. Although there has been research on the idea of a separate Spanish American ("creole") identity separate from that of Iberia, political independence was not initially the aim of most Spanish Americans, nor was it necessarily inevitable. After the restoration of rule by Ferdinand VII in 1814, and his rejection of the Spanish liberal constitution of 1812, the monarchy as well as liberals hardened their stance toward its overseas possessions, and they in turn increasingly sought political independence.

By 1819, Santander was given command of the republican army's vanguard by Bolívar during the campaign to liberate New Granada. Santander was one of the battlefield commanders during the republican victory at the battle of "el Pantano de Vargas" (Vargas Swamp Battle) and later at the Battle of Boyacá, on August 7 of that same year. [4] After these battles, he was promoted to Commanding General, the equivalent of a modern major general. [4]

Bolívars campaign to liberate New Granada

Bolívar's campaign to liberate New Granada of 1819-1820 was part of the Colombian and Venezuelan wars of independence and was one of the many military campaigns fought by Simón Bolívar. Bolívar's victory in New Granada secured the eventual independence of northern South America. It provided Bolívar with the economic and human resources to complete his victory over the Spanish in Venezuela and Colombia. Bolívar's attack on New Granada is considered one of the most daring in military history, compared by contemporaries and some historians to Napoleon's crossing of the Alps in 1800 and José San Martín's Crossing of the Andes in 1817.

Vargas Swamp Battle

Vargas Swamp Battle was an armed conflict that occurred near Paipa, on July 25, 1819. A joint Venezuelan and New Granadan army commanded by Simón Bolívar was trying to prevent Spanish forces from arriving at Santafe de Bogotá, which was lightly defended, before they did. Bolívar's army successfully bested the royalist army in spite of the exhaustion of the troops after climbing the Páramo de Pisba, and crossing the swamp. This battle and the next victory over the Spanish by the Boyacá Bridge secured the independence of New Granada.

Battle of Boyacá battle

The Battle of Boyacá (1819), was the decisive battle that ensured the success of Bolívar's campaign to liberate New Granada. The battle of Boyaca is considered the beginning of the independence of the North of South America, and is considered important because it led to the victories of the battle of Carabobo in Venezuela, Pichincha in Ecuador, and Junín and Ayacucho in Peru.

The Presidency

In October 1821, after the Constitution of Cúcuta was proclaimed, Santander was elected by the newly gathered Congress as Vice President of Gran Colombia, in a heated election, where he overcame the other strong candidate for the post, the former leader of Cundinamarca, General Antonio Nariño, by a margin of 38 to 19 votes. Santander was placed in charge of the government of New Granada, while Bolívar returned to Venezuela to propose the union of Venezuela and New Granada to the Venezuelan congress. [5]

Gran Colombia Former republic

Gran Colombia is the name historians use to refer to the state that encompassed much of northern South America and part of southern Central America from 1819 to 1831. The state included the territories of present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela, and parts of northern Peru, western Guyana and northwestern Brazil. The term Gran Colombia is used historiographically to distinguish it from the current Republic of Colombia, which is also the official name of the former state.

Antonio Nariño Colombian politician

Antonio Amador José de Nariño Bernardo del Casal was a Colombian ideological precursor of the independence movement in New Granada as well as one of its early political and military leaders.

First administration

Since General Simón Bolívar, despite being the President of the new republic, decided to continue leading the republican forces in their southern campaigns in Ecuador and Peru, the office of President of Gran Colombia was entrusted to General Santander. The Constitution mandated that the vice-president remain in Bogotá in such cases and handle the functions of the executive branch of government. As acting ruler, Santander had to deal with a grave economic crisis—that was one of the direct consequences of a decade of constant warfare—pockets of royalist sentiment in Gran Colombian society, supplying the logistics of the continuing military operations, administrative and legislative reactivation, and the establishment of internal political divisions. During this period Santander definitely moved towards a centralist political philosophy and upheld the legitimacy of the Cucutá Constitution against federalist and regionalist pretensions. Santander also made a concerted move toward free trade. He removed and reduced many taxes which had been left in place from Spanish rule and opened ports to all foreign nations. He also created incentives for immigrants, including expedited naturalization—applicants were allowed to leave the country for up to six months without interrupting their legally "required" stay—and land grants. Bolívar undid many of Santander's actions after he returned in 1826 and reassumed his position as president, often ruling through emergency decree.

Simón Bolívar Venezuelan military and political leader, South American libertador

Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar Palacios Ponte y Blanco, generally known as Simón Bolívar and also colloquially as El Libertador, or the Liberator, was a Venezuelan military and political leader who led the secession of what are currently the states of Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama from the Spanish Empire.

Ecuador Republic in South America

Ecuador, officially the Republic of Ecuador, is a country in northwestern South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean on the west. Ecuador also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) west of the mainland. The capital city is Quito, which is also the largest city.

Peru Republic in South America

Peru, officially the Republic of Peru, is a country in western South America. It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the west by the Pacific Ocean. Peru is a megadiverse country with habitats ranging from the arid plains of the Pacific coastal region in the west to the peaks of the Andes mountains vertically extending from the north to the southeast of the country to the tropical Amazon Basin rainforest in the east with the Amazon river.

During his first administration, and in an effort to stabilize the new nation, Santander ordered the execution of most of the Spanish officers in captivity, among them General José María Barreirio. General Bolívar, in a letter sent to Santander from Pamplona, expressed his sadness and disapproval. [5]

Political differences

House of Francisco de Paula Santander Casa de Francisco de Paula Santander.jpg
House of Francisco de Paula Santander
Statue of Francisco de Paula Santander in Medellin. Francisco de Paula Santander-Estatua-Medellin.JPG
Statue of Francisco de Paula Santander in Medellín.

Initially, Santander and Bolívar were considered as close friends and allies, but gradually political and ideological differences emerged. It is considered by modern scholars that Santander believed in the sanctity of constitutional government and in the rule of law, perhaps to a greater degree than Bolívar, who would have allegedly thought that those concerns were secondary to what he perceived as the actual needs and solutions that historical circumstances demanded, and thus could be subject to flexibility [ citation needed ].

In 1826, when the first Venezuelan uprising occurred, Santander and Bolívar came to disagree about how to handle the situation. Santander believed that the rebels, led by José Antonio Páez and federalist sympathizers, should be punished or at least made to openly submit to the established constitutional order. When Bolívar, who had returned from Peru and reassumed his executive powers, arranged for an amnesty and placed Páez as supreme military chief of the department of Venezuela, Santander felt that the central government's authority and the rule of law were being undermined by the constitutional President himself in a personalist manner.

Santander also disagreed with Bolívar's attempt to promote a reform of the 1821 constitution before it was legally permitted (the constitution stated that ten years had to go by), and especially with Bolívar's attempted nationwide implementation of the constitution that he had previously drafted for Bolivia, which among other provisions called for a lifelong presidency with the ability to select a direct successor. In Santander's opinion, this could place the country dangerously close to monarchism [ citation needed ].

In 1828, growing internal conflicts continued. Santander was elected as one of the delegates to the Ocaña constitutional convention, during which both his supporters and other opposition political factions blocked Bolívar's attempts at reform. This led to the sudden exit of many of the Bolivarian delegates, who disagreed with the Convention's potential outcome.

These events eventually led Bolívar to declare himself dictator [ clarification needed ]in August of that year, while the office of the vice president was abolished.

Santander and his political sympathizers felt that this act betrayed liberalism and the ideology of the Age of Enlightenment, some even comparing Bolívar to Napoleon or Julius Caesar.

On September 25, 1828, Bolívar escaped an assassination attempt. Among those blamed was Santander who, in a quick military trial, was originally sentenced to die without specific proof of his participation in the event, but President Bolívar pardoned him, commuted his sentence and ordered his exile. [6]

Even today, the details are not totally clear and the evidence appears to be inconclusive. Some historians consider that Santander knew about the possibility of an assassination attempt and initially opposed it, but eventually allowed it to happen without his direct participation. This position was eventually assumed by Santander himself later in his life. Others consider that Santander may have been involved in the plan from the beginning as it would benefit him politically, though no direct proof of his role has been found.

Return from Exile

Testament of Francisco de Paula Santander: I declare that I was born in Villa del Rosario de Cucuta, of the legitimately contracted marriage between my parents Mr. Juan Agustin Santander y Colmenares and Mrs Manuela de Omana y Rodriguez, both already deceased as well as their ancestors of noble family, that under the Spanish government obtained public destinies of honor and distinction. I say this to counter the lies of my enemies, who have wanted to deny me even my birth. Testamento de Francisco de Paula Santander.jpg
Testament of Francisco de Paula Santander: I declare that I was born in Villa del Rosario de Cúcuta, of the legitimately contracted marriage between my parents Mr. Juan Agustin Santander y Colmenares and Mrs Manuela de Omaña y Rodriguez, both already deceased as well as their ancestors of noble family, that under the Spanish government obtained public destinies of honor and distinction. I say this to counter the lies of my enemies, who have wanted to deny me even my birth.

After Bolívar died and Gran Colombia broke up, Santander returned from exile in 1832 and served as President of the Republic of New Granada from 1832 to 1836. Santander had spent a great deal of time in Europe absorbing how the ideas of the Enlightenment were affecting European politics in the early 19th century. In 1830, he was in Brussels, where he attended the opera La muette de Portici, and witnessed the Belgian Revolution, which was sparked by riots linked to the opera’s liberal political implications. When he returned, these concepts influenced his decisions to a great extent.

Second Administration

In 1832, Santander was elected by Congress as President for a second term. [7] This administration was quite different from the first, in that he moved away from free trade and stressed an alternate form of protectionism. He first reverted most of his original changes from Bolívar's undoing, although some were devalued somewhat. He did not close New Granada to international trade, but rather sought safety for New Granada under the auspices of industrialized nations, instead of discouraging trade with them. He set up economic contacts in eleven United States cities, hoped that by creating strong ties with them, he would promote industrial development in New Granada while avoiding the use of high tariffs, which he inherently disliked.

During his second administration, just like he did during his first administration, he ordered the execution of most of the rest of the Spanish officers still in captivity, who had been saved by Bolivar in the first round of Santander's murderous pursuit. Among them General José Sardá. They were executed in Bogotá, on July 23, 1833, in front of Santander himself. [8]

After his term expired, he remained an important and influential political figure. He died in 1840 and was eventually considered as one of the original ideological founders of the Colombian Liberal Party, which would be formally established some eight years later.

The death of Santander in Bogota, after a long agony. Making his will, he said: "I wish I would have loved God as much as I loved my country ." MuertedeSantander.jpg
The death of Santander in Bogota, after a long agony. Making his will, he said: "I wish I would have loved God as much as I loved my country ."

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  1. 1 2 Arismendi Posada, Ignacio; Gobernantes Colombianos; trans. Colombian Presidents; Interprint Editors Ltd.; Italgraf; Segunda Edición; Page 21; Bogotá, Colombia; 1983
  3. Arismendi Posada, Ignacio; Gobernantes Colombianos; trans. Colombian Presidents; Interprint Editors Ltd.; Italgraf; Segunda Edición; Page 29; Bogotá, Colombia; 1983
  4. 1 2 3 4 Arismendi Posada, Ignacio; Gobernantes Colombianos; trans. Colombian Presidents; Interprint Editors Ltd.; Italgraf; Segunda Edición; Page 22; Bogotá, Colombia; 1983
  5. 1 2 Arismendi Posada, Ignacio; Gobernantes Colombianos; trans. Colombian Presidents; Interprint Editors Ltd.; Italgraf; Segunda Edición; Page 23; Bogotá, Colombia; 1983
  6. Arismendi Posada, Ignacio; Gobernantes Colombianos; trans. Colombian Presidents; Interprint Editors Ltd.; Italgraf; Segunda Edición; Page 27; Bogotá, Colombia; 1983
  7. Arismendi Posada, Ignacio; Gobernantes Colombianos; trans. Colombian Presidents; Interprint Editors Ltd.; Italgraf; Segunda Edición; Page 25; Bogotá, Colombia; 1983
  8. Arismendi Posada, Ignacio; Gobernantes Colombianos; trans. Colombian Presidents; Interprint Editors Ltd.; Italgraf; Segunda Edición; Page 24; Bogotá, Colombia; 1983