Groot, José Manuel (1800–1878)

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Groot, José Manuel (1800–1878)

The Colombian educator, historian, artist, and Catholic polemicist José Manuel Groot (December 25, 1800–May 3, 1878) was born in late-colonial Bogotá. In 1819 he went to work in the commercial firm of an uncle under whose influence he joined a Masonic lodge and appeared to embrace the newest liberal intellectual currents. However, a few years later he experienced a religious conversion that made him for the rest of his life an outspoken defender of traditional Roman Catholicism.

Groot served briefly in the republican bureaucracy but in 1828 founded a school and from that point on was primarily an educator, directing his own school and giving classes in others. A largely self-taught painter, Groot also produced a body of portraits and costumbrista (folklore) scenes, and he is likewise remembered for prose and poetry writings in the costumbrista genre. But he wrote mainly to defend Catholic orthodoxy and political conservatism, in newspaper articles and pamphlets and in his Historia eclesiástica y civil de Nueva Granada, escrita sobre documentos auténticos, first published in 1869 and 1870, in three volumes, the last dealing with the Gran Colombian period. His style was unabashedly polemical, but his Historia reflected extensive research in published and unpublished materials and remains a significant source for Colombian history.

See alsoArt: The Nineteenth Century; Masonic Orders.


Giraldo Jaramillo, Gabriel. Don José Manuel Groot. Bogota: Editorial ABC, 1957.

Méndez, Herminia. "La obra histórica de José Manuel Groot." Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia (Venezuela) 72, no. 287 (1989): 259-274.

                                        David Bushnell