San Gil, a town in northeastern Colombia, 186 miles northeast of Bogotá, 1990 estimated population 40,000. Site of an Indian parish from the 1620s, San Gil was founded as a town in 1689, becoming the seat for a large, initially desolate region south of the Río Chicamocha. The growth of other towns in the jurisdiction, especially the artisanal and commercial center of Socorro, gave rise to endless struggles for municipal status, culminating in the separation of Socorro in 1776 and of Barichara in 1803. Bitterness produced by these losses may have inspired the San Gil elite's opposition to the Comunero Revolt of 1781, and indifference to the Independence struggle, both movements which had their epicenter in the northeast. In the early republican period, San Gil achieved relative prosperity as an educational, bureaucratic, and urban artisanal center. Its merchant-landholder elite combined economic liberalism and social conservatism, the tensions of which led them to switch from Liberal to Conservative affiliation in the 1850s, making the town a Conservative redoubt for the rest of the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century San Gil retained its regional economic supremacy, particularly as a road transportation center, but its political importance declined.
Rito Rueda, Presencia de un pueblo (1968).
John L. Phelan, The People and the King (1978).
Isaías Ardila Díaz, Historia de San Gil en sus 300 años (1990).
Palacios, Marco. Between Legitimacy and Violence: A History of Colombia, 1875–2002. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.
Uribe Urban, Victor. Honorable Lives: Lawyers, Family, and Politics in Colombia, 1750–1850. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000.
Richard J. Stoller