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Chamorro, Fruto (1804–1855)

Chamorro, Fruto (1804–1855)

Fruto Chamorro (b. 20 October 1804; d. 12 March 1855), first director of state and first president of Nicaragua (1853–1855). Chamorro is considered one of the most influential and significant figures in the political life of Nicaragua. He restored order to the republic after the chaos of the incessant post-independence wars caused by friction between Conservatives and Liberals.

Born in Guatemala to a Nicaraguan father, Pedro José Chamorro, Fruto Chamorro left his homeland for Nicaragua in early 1827. Soon realizing that Nicaragua suffered from anarchy, factionalism, and militarism, he focused his energy on the fight for liberty and order. In 1836 Chamorro was elected deputy to the Granada state legislature, a position he used to establish public education in that state. He considered education basic to social progress and saw it as a way to mend the fatal localism afflicting the country. Chamorro also was instrumental in the establishment of elections to create a Constituent Assembly that would reform the constitution of 1838. From 1839 to 1842 he was a senator.

By the end of 1842 Chamorro was managing the first newspaper in Granada, Mentor Nicaragüense, an organ of the Universidad de Oriente in whose pages he revealed his moral personality. He was an intensely faithful Christian, a staunch supporter of public education, an enemy of ignorance, a concerned political activist, and a dedicated public servant who devoted himself to the preservation of order in Nicaragua. The maintenance of order was Chamorro's major objective upon his assumption of the office of supreme director on 1 April 1853. The new constitution, promulgated on 4 March 1854, provided that the State of Nicaragua be renamed the Republic of Nicaragua and that the title supreme director be changed to president of the republic; thus, Chamorro served as the first and only supreme director and the first president of Nicaragua.

On 1 June 1855, U.S. adventurer William Walker landed fifty-seven men at Realjo in order to take over Nicaragua. After initial military setbacks, Walker captured Granada in October 1855 and was appointed armed forces chief. Patricio Rivas served as a figurehead president. Although Walker himself was elected president in June 1856, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala allied against him. Nicaraguan forces ousted Walker in May 1857, and he spent the next three years trying to incite other revolutions. British marines eventually captured Walker in Honduras. He was executed in Trujillo on 12 September 1860. Nicaragua returned to peace, which the Conservative presidents who followed Chamorro maintained until 1893.

Chamorro's legacy, then, rests on the fact that his administration provided the foundation for the orderly succession of mainly civilian Conservative presidents. In addition, Chamorro was responsible for the formation of political clubs that evolved into the Conservative Party. His family has been an active and integral element in the Conservative Party ranks for generations. The Conservatives posthumously honored Chamorro as the founder of their party in 1859.

See alsoNational War; Nicaragua.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Sara Luisa Barquero, Gobernantes de Nicaragua, 1825–1947 (1945), esp. pp. 81-85.

Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Zelaya, Fruto Chamorro (1960).

Francisco Ortega Arancibia, Cuarenta años (1838–1878) de historia de Nicaragua (1975).

Ricardo Paíz Castillo, Breve historia del Partido Conservador de Nicaragua y estampas conservadoras (1984), esp. pp. 29-31, 109-119.

Additional Bibliography

Díaz Lacayo, Aldo. Gobernantes de Nicaragua (1821–1979): Guía para el estudio de sus biografías políticas. Managua: Aldilà Editor, 2002.

Kinloch Tijerino, Frances. Nicaragua: Identidad y cultura política (1821–1858). Managua: Banco Central de Nicaragua, 1999.

                                        Shannon Bellamy

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