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Valle, José Cecilio del (1776–1834)

Valle, José Cecilio del (1776–1834)

José Cecilio del Valle (b. 22 November 1776; d. 2 March 1834), Honduran scholar and statesman. Born in Choluteca, Honduras, Valle moved with his family to newly established Guatemala City in 1789 and matriculated the next year at the University of San Carlos. With the assistance of his teacher, Fray Antonio de Liendo y Goicoechea (1735–1814), and Pedro Juan de Lara, he received a degree in philosophy in 1794 and continued to study civil and canon law until he was admitted to the bar in 1803. Enthused by the Enlightenment philosophies of his teachers, he began a pursuit of knowledge that eventually gained him acknowledgment as an authority in economics and as the most prominent scholar of Central America.

Valle's talents and diligence led him to a life of politics at an early age. For almost twenty years, he faithfully served the captaincy general of Guatemala in hopes of obtaining a high official post in Spain. During the turbulent era prior to independence, Valle advanced rapidly in local politics and became the leader of the moderate conservatives. He served as the mayor of Guatemala City in 1820. Reluctant to support independence from Spain, he nonetheless assumed leadership of the apparently inevitable movement in the fear that social revolution, rather than political freedom, would become the focus of the turmoil. Indeed, he was largely responsible for the writing of the declaration of independence. He was a member of the provisional junta that took control of the government of Central America on 15 September 1821 and annexed the region to Mexico under Agustín de Iturbide, who later became (1822) Emperor Agustín I.

Under the empire, he held several official posts. As the representative from the province of Tegucigalpa (Honduras) to the Constituent Congress of Mexico, he served with distinction and rose to become the vice president of the congress. Although Iturbide imprisoned him on false charges of conspiracy, he was exonerated six months later and made secretary of foreign and domestic affairs. After the fall of Iturbide, Valle was appointed secretary of the department of justice and ecclesiastical affairs by the newly formed Mexican Republic.

When Central America decided to seek its own political destiny, Valle returned to Guatemala in January 1824 and was chosen, along with José Manuel de la Cerda and Tomás O'Horan, to be a member of the provisional junta that governed the isthmus until elections for the United Provinces of Central America were held in 1825. In the presidential elections, Valle won a plurality of the electoral votes, but a technicality prevented him from taking office. The federal congress elected instead Manuel José Arce (1786–1846). Valle responded to the injustice by publishing the Manifiesto de José del Valle a la nación guatemalteca (1825), in which he gave an account of the services he had rendered his country and demonstrated the invalidity of Arce's election. During the Arce administration, he represented the department of Guatemala as a deputy to the congress. He ran for the presidency again in 1830 and lost to Francisco Morazán. Finally, Valle was elected president of Central America in 1834, but he became seriously ill on his estate, La Concepción, some 60 miles from Guatemala City, and died en route to his inauguration.

See alsoGuatemala City; Iturbide, Agustín de; Philosophy.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Louis E. Bumgartner, José del Valle of Central America (1963).

Elvia Castañeda De Machado, Valle en la génesis del panamericanismo (1977).

José Cecilio Del Valle and Jorge Del Valle Matheu, eds., Obras de José Cecilio del Valle, 2 vols. (1929–1930).

José Cecilio Del Valle, Pensamiento vivo de José Cecilio del Valle … Selección y prólogo de Rafael Heliodoro Valle (1971).

Pedro Tobar Cruz, Valle: El hombre, el político, el sabio (1961).

Rafael Leíva Vivas, Valle: Precursor del sistema interamericano (1977).

Franklin Dallas Parker, José Cecilio del Valle and the Establishment of the Central American Confederation (1954).

Ramón Rosa, Biografía de don José Cecilio del Valle (1882).

Additional Bibliography

Pérez Cadalso, Eliseo. Valle, apóstol de América. Tegucigalpa, Honduras: Editorial Universitaria, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, 1999.

Sierra Fonseca, Rolanda. La filosofía de la historia de José Cecilio del Valle. Obispado de Choluteca, Honduras: Ediciones Subirana, 1998.

                                              Michael F. Fry

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