Ballivián, José (1805–1852)

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Ballivián, José (1805–1852)

José Ballivián (b. 30 November 1805; d. 16 October 1852), president of Bolivia (1841–1847). Born in La Paz, he is perhaps best known as the victorious general in the 1841 battle of Ingaví, in which the Bolivian army beat the Peruvian invaders under the leadership of General Agustín Gamarra, forever ending Peruvian plans to annex Bolivia. Ballivián was also a capable administrator and one of the best nineteenth-century Bolivian presidents. Although he joined the military early in life, having fought as a teenager in the Spanish and patriot armies, Ballivián was a self-taught man who fostered science and culture. He was fortunate that during his government the country enjoyed relative prosperity due to revenues from taxes on guano from the Pacific coast, quinine from the eastern foothills, and a silver boomlet. Most important was his attempt to consolidate Bolivia's eastern frontier regions. He founded the department of Beni in the Amazon basin of northeastern Bolivia, promoted the exploration of the Otuquis River region in Santa Cruz, and attempted but largely failed the exploration, military conquest, and settlement of the Chaco.

See alsoBolivia: Since 1825 .


The recent publication in Spanish of Janet Groff Greever's 1957 dissertation José Ballivián y el oriente boliviano, translated by José Luis Roca (1987), is one of the few widely available works on the Ballivián administration. Humberto Vázquez-Machicado, "Sobre la vida del General José Ballivián (1804–1852)," in Obras completas de Humberto Vázquez-Machicado y José Vázquez-Machicado, vol. 4 (1987), provides important information on Ballivián's life. Though the interpretation is dated, the most inclusive political narration of the Ballivián administration is Alcides Arguedas, Historia de Bolivia: Los caudillos letrados, 1828–1848 (1923).

                                         Erick D. Langer