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García Peláez, Francisco De Paula (1785–1867)

García Peláez, Francisco De Paula (1785–1867)

Francisco De Paula García Peláez (b. 2 April 1785; d. 25 January 1867), archbishop of Guatemala, with jurisdiction over all of Central America (1846–1867). Born into a ladino family of modest means in San Juan Sacatepéquez, Guatemala, García Peláez studied law and theology at the University of San Carlos, where he received his doctorate in 1819. Although regarded as somewhat liberal in the late colonial period, as archbishop during the long, conservative dictatorship of José Rafael Carrera, he became known as an ultraconservative. He had offered the first course in political economy at the University of San Carlos in 1814.

In 1842 Pope Gregory XVI named García archbishop coadjutor, to succeed the archbishopric upon the death of Archbishop Ramón Casáus, after it was clear that Casáus would not return to Guatemala from his exile in Havana. Following Casáus's death in late 1845, García was formally installed as archbishop, although he had been acting archbishop since 1844. García's appointment was a setback for the Guatemalan elite and particularly for Juan José de Aycinena, who had expected to be named. Jorge Viteri y Ungo was especially influential in arranging García's appointment as part of a compromise to get papal approval of a separate diocese of El Salvador, of which Viteri was named bishop. In 1861 Pope Pius IX named García Peláez domestic prelate and attending bishop to the pontifical throne, essentially a step below cardinal.

García Peláez wrote a three-volume history of the colonial Kingdom of Guatemala, Memorias para la historia del antiguo reino de Guatemala, a work commissioned by Governor Mariano Gálvez.

See alsoCarrera, José Rafael; Casáus y Torres, Ramón.


There is a detailed biographical sketch in Gaceta de Guatemala (27 June-25 August 1867). See also Francisco Fernández Hall, "Historiadores de Guatemala posteriores a la independencia nacional: El Doctor Don Francisco de Paula García Peláez," in Anales de la Sociedad de Geografía e Historia 15, no. 3 (1939): 261-278; and three articles in Anales de la Sociedad de Geografía e Historia 40, no. 1/2 (1967): 15-36, commemorating the centenary of the death of García Peláez: Francisco Gall, "En el centenario del fallecimiento de García Peláez"; Valentín Solórzano Fernández, "García Peláez: Cátedra prima de economía política en el Reino de Guatemala"; and Jorge Luis Arriola, "García Peláez, uno de los precursores del liberalismo económico en Guatemala."

Additional Bibliography

Sullivan-Gonzalez, Douglass. Piety, Power, and Politics: Religion and Nation Formation in Guatemala, 1821–1871. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998.

                               Ralph Lee Woodward Jr.

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