Cevallos, Pedro Fermín (1812–1893)

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Cevallos, Pedro Fermín (1812–1893)

Pedro Fermín Cevallos was a Supreme Court judge, congressman, biographer, and the father of modern historiography in Ecuador. With a doctoral degree in jurisprudence from the Colegio de San Luís in Quito, he began his political career in 1844 as a deputy in the national Congress. A supporter of liberal political ideas, he helped to establish the first Liberal Party in Ecuador and served as secretary of the 1852 Constitutional Congress that brought General Francisco Urvina to power.

Cevallos was appointed minister of state during the urvinista administration (1851–1859); he authorized important decrees implementing such elements of the liberal agenda as the abolition of slavery and the expulsion of the Jesuits. He was elected to Congress in 1867 and in 1875 was appointed minister of the Supreme Court in Quito. Despite his important political contributions, Cevallos is remembered primarily for his six-volume history of Ecuador, Resumen de la historia del Ecuador (A summary of the history of Ecuador, 1870). This work, based on his earlier writings in his column Cuadro sinóptico de la República del Ecuador (A synoptic picture of the republic) in the liberal newspaper Democracia, represents the first systematic study of Ecuadoran history. Continuing the work of the Jesuit historian Juan de Velasco (1727–1792), Cevallos offers a general history of Ecuador starting with the reign of Huayna-Cápac, the last great Inca; and concluding with the marcista (march) Revolution of 1845. Although it has been criticized for not offering an in-depth analysis of the historical events, Resumen represents an important contribution to Ecuadoran historiography.

See alsoEcuador: Since 1830; Huayna Capac; Liberalism; Mera, Juan León; Urvina Jado, Francisco.


Arias, Augusto. "Vida de Pedro Fermín Cevallos." Augusto Arias: Obras selectas. Quito: Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, 1962.

Barrera, Isaac J. "Pedro Fermín Cevallos." Historiografía del Ecuador. México, D. F.: Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia, 1956.

Thomas, Jack Ray. Biographical Dictionary of Latin American Historians and Historiography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1984.

                                        Kenneth Atwood