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Democratic Society of Artisans

Democratic Society of Artisans

Members of the Democratic Society of Artisans (Sociedad Democrática de Artesanos) articulated a critical assessment of the liberal reform process and of elite-dominated politics in mid-nineteenth century Colombia. In Bogotá, where the Democratic Society emerged in 1849 from the Society of Artisans, members initially focused upon increasing tariffs and other popular policies, despite the influence of Liberal politicians who sought to manipulate the organization. In Cali, the Democratic Society sought racial equality and the return of ejido lands (common lands—some were indigenous, some not), reflecting the distinct social characteristics of the region. Artisans and disgruntled Draconiano (followers of President José María Obando) regained control of the capital's chapter in 1851, after which it became closely aligned with the presidential administration of General Obando (1853–1854). Its earlier myopic focus on higher tariff rates evolved into a potent criticism of elite-dominated liberalism, leading chapters in Bogotá, Cali, and San Gil to support the unsuccessful 1854 golpe de estado (coup d'état) of José María Melo.

See alsoColombia, Political Parties: Liberal Party; Ejidos; Golpe de estado (coup d'état); Melo, José María; Obando, José María.


Sanders, James E. Contentious Republicans: Popular Politics, Race, and Class in Nineteenth-Century Colombia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

Sowell, David. "'La teoría i la realidad': The Democratic Society of Artisans of Bogotá, 1847–1854." Hispanic American Historical Review 67, no. 4 (November 1987): 611-630.

                                            David Sowell

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