Riva Palacio, Vicente (1832–1896)

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Riva Palacio, Vicente (1832–1896)

Vicente Riva Palacio (b. 16 October 1832; d. 22 November 1896), Mexican military, political, and literary figure. Born in Mexico City, the son of Mariano Riva Palacio, governor of the state of Mexico, Riva Palacio was educated at the Literary Institute in Toluca and qualified in law in 1854. He was a Liberal deputy in the Constituent Congress of 1856–1857. Though a civilian, he commanded a section of the Liberal army during the Civil War of the Reform (1858–1861). It was in 1861, while a deputy in the federal Congress, that Riva Palacio became known as a skillful satirist and a playwright. His literary proclivities notwithstanding, he fought under Ignacio Zaragoza at the battle of Puebla in May 1862. He remained loyal to President Benito Juaréz, whom he followed to San Luis Potosí in 1863. As governor of Mexico and later of Michoacán (1865) under Juaréz, he became known for his generous treatment of enemy prisoners, and in 1867 took part in the capture of Querétaro.

After election to the Supreme Court of Justice (1868–1870), he dedicated himself increasingly to writing. With his friend Ignacio Altamirano, Riva Palacio stood for the creation of a national literature. From 1888 he oversaw the publication of the multivolume Mexico a través de los siglos. He founded El Ahuizote (1874–1876), a satirical newspaper, which attacked the administration of President Sebastián Lerdo De Tejada (1872–1876). He supported Portfirio Díaz's Plan of Tuxtepec in 1876 and served as secretary for development from 1877 to 1880. For attacks in the Chamber of Deputies on the administration of General Manuel González (1880–1884), he was sent to the Santiago Tlatelolco Military Prison in 1883. Upon returning to power in 1884, Porfirio Díaz sent him in 1886 as minister plenipotentiary to Spain and Portugal. Riva Palacio died in Madrid; his remains were brought back to Mexico in 1936.

See alsoMexico: 1810–1910; Mexico, Wars and Revolutions: The Reform.


Daniel Cosío Villegas, Historia moderna de México, 8 vols. (1955–1972).

Eduardo Ruíz, Historia de la guerra de intervención en Michoacán (1975).

Additional Bibliography

Algaba Martínez, Leticia. Las licencias del novelista y las máscaras del crítico. México: Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana: Azcapotzalco, 1997.

Díaz y de Ovando, Clementina. Las ilusiones perdidas del general Vicente Riva Palacio: La Exposición International Mexicana, 1880 y otras utopias. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2002.

Ortiz Monasterio, José. México eternamente: Vicente Riva Palacio ante la escritura de la historia. Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Dr. José María Luis Mora: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2004.

                                                Brian Hamnett