Constitution of 1863

views updated

Constitution of 1863

In effect from 1863 to 1885, the constitution, produced by an all-Liberal assembly at Rionegro, Antioquia, was the maximum expression of Colombian federalism, outstripping its already federalist predecessor of 1858. Colombia's nine sovereign states were permitted to raise armies, set electoral laws, and do most anything else of consequence; the federal president was limited to a nonrenewable two-year term, and he was indirectly elected by the states. The document's libertarian bent, providing for absolute freedom of the press (including libel) and unrestricted traffic in arms, led the French novelist Victor Hugo to deem it a constitution for a "nation of angels." Conservatives, and many Liberals, blamed the document for Colombia's persistent instability and underdevelopment. In January 1886 President Rafael Núñez, after crushing a Liberal revolt, declared that the 1863 constitution had "ceased to exist"; its successor, in force until 1991, reverted to a centralist and quasi-authoritarian model.

See alsoFederalism; Mosquera, Tomás Cipriano de.


Salvador Camacho Roldán, "La convención de Rionegro," in his Memorias (1923).

William M. Gibson, The Constitutions of Colombia (1948).

James William Park, Rafael Núñez and the Politics of Colombian Regionalism, 1863–1886 (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Gómez Ortiz, Armando, Orlando Pardo Martínez, and Amado Antonio Guerrero Rincón, eds. Las constituciones políticas del Gran Santander, 1853–1885. Bucaramanga, Colombia: Escuela de Historia, Universidad Industrial de Santander, 2004.

                                 Richard J. Stoller

About this article

Constitution of 1863

Updated About content Print Article