Nariño, Antonio

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Nariño, Antonio

Antonio Nariño (äntō´nyō närē´nyō), 1765–1823, Colombian revolutionary. A liberal intellectual, Nariño was one of the first to foment revolution against Spain in South America. For secretly translating and distributing copies of The Declaration of the Rights of Man he was condemned to prison (1795), but escaped to France and then to England, returning (1797) to New Granada to continue secret agitation. Arrested, he was released, imprisoned again, and, after an escape, confined at Cartagena. He was freed by the revolutionaries and, returning to Bogotá, became (Sept., 1811) president of Cundinamarca, one of the independent states formed after the dissolution of the vice-royalty of New Granada. Advocating strong central government as the only way of preserving independence, Nariño was opposed by the military juntas of other states, which desired simply a loose federation. He was involved in civil wars with the federalists until he was granted dictatorial powers and succeeded in uniting the patriot forces to repel a royalist invasion. He drove the Spanish from Popayán, but was defeated (May, 1814) at Pasto. He surrendered himself but not his army and was later imprisoned for four years in Cádiz. He was released by Spanish revolutionaries in 1820 and returned to aid Simón Bolívar, who made him vice president of the greater republic of Colombia (1821), but he resigned two months later. Often vilified for his stubborn adherence to his own opinions, Nariño was not recognized until many years later as one of the greatest and most self-sacrificing of the early advocates of independence.

See biography by T. Blossom (1967).

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