López, Francisco Solano (1826–1870)

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López, Francisco Solano (1826–1870)

Francisco Solano López (b. 24 July 1826; d. 1 March 1870), president of Paraguay (1862–1870) and the third of its three major nineteenth-century post-Independence administrators. Paraguayans traditionally have viewed López as a national hero, whereas revisionists have judged him to be an ambitious nationalist who overestimated the economic significance and military strength of Paraguay and involved it in the disastrous War of the Triple Alliance.

Born in Asunción as the eldest son of Carlos Antonio López, raised on the family estancia in Olivares, and privately educated by tutors, López became his father's principal adviser, confidant, and heir apparent. When Carlos Antonio López declared war on Juan Manuel de Rosas of Argentina in 1845, he made eighteen-year-old Francisco Solano a brigadier general. From 1853 to 1854, the younger López negotiated contracts for technicians and arms in Europe, where he met Elisa Alicia Lynch, who became his mistress and bore him five sons. As commander of the army and vice president, he dominated the triumvirate that ruled at his father's death. On 16 October 1862 a congress elected him president of Paraguay for a ten-year term.

General López continued the political system and economic policies of his father. He sought to make Asunción similar to European capitals—socially vibrant and culturally stimulating, with regular theater performances and fashionable events. He encouraged trade and provided government loans for commercial enterprises, railroad expansion, and telegraph construction. His administration increased the number of doctors, engineers, teachers, and skilled workers and also centralized education and the economy. Although López accumulated his own land and wealth, he was well accepted by both the peasantry and the elite.

When López sought to increase Paraguay's international role in the Río de la Plata area, he clashed with Argentina and Brazil. After leading the armed forces in the War of the Triple Alliance (1864–1870) for more than five years, he was killed at the battle of Cerro Corá.

See alsoCerro Corá, Battle of; Paraguay: The Nineteenth Century.


R. B. Cunninghame Graham, Portrait of a Dictator (1933).

Juan Emiliano O'Leary, El Mariscal Solano López, 3d ed. (1970).

John Hoyt Williams, The Rise and Fall of the Paraguayan Republic, 1800–1870 (1979).

Additional Bibliography

García, Cristina. Francisco Solano López. Madrid: Historia 16: Quorum: Sociedad Estatal para la Ejecución Programas del Quinto Centenario, 1987.

Mattos, Joaquim Francisco de. A guerra do Paraguai: História de Francisco Solano Lopez, o exterminador da nação paraguaia. Brasília: Centro Gráfico do Senado Federal, 1990.

Rodríguez Alcalá, Guido, compiler. Residentas, destinadas y traidoras. Asunción: RP Ediciones-Criterio, 1991.

                                       Vera Blinn Reber

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