Viscardo y Guzmán, Juan Pablo (1748–1798)

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Viscardo y Guzmán, Juan Pablo (1748–1798)

Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán (b. 20 June 1748; d. February 1798), Peruvian Jesuit. Viscardo was born in Pampacolca (region of Arequipa) into a long-established creole family. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1761 and, although still a novice, was affected by the expulsion of the Jesuits ordered by Charles III in 1767. Early the following year Viscardo went to Cádiz, a trip which marked the beginning of an exile that took him to Italy, France, and England, where he died.

Viscardo is best known for his inflammatory "Letter to Spanish Americans," published in French in 1799 and in a Spanish translation in London in 1801. In it, Viscardo cataloged the alleged tyranny of colonial Spanish rule for three centuries and forcefully outlined why the colonies should be independent. Some historians consider him the "first and most important ideological precursor of Hispanic American independence." It has yet to be demonstrated, however, that his "Letter" was a significant stimulus for independence.

See alsoAnticlericalism; Charles III of Spain; Jesuits.


D. A. Brading, The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State 1492–1867 (1991), pp. 535-540.

Rubén Vargas Ugarte, S.J., La carta a los españoles americanos de Don Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán, 2nd ed. (1964).

Additional Bibliography

Bacacorzo, Jorge, Gustavo Bacacorzo, and Xavier Bacacorzo. Los hermanos Viscardo y Guzmán: Pensamiento y acción americanistas. Lima: Universidad Ricardo Palma, 2000.

Belaunde Ruiz de Somocurcio, Javier de. Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán, ideólogo y promotor de la independencia hispanoamericana. Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congresso del Perú, 2002.

Valera, Luis. Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán, 1748–1798: El hombre y su tiempo. Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú: Consorcio de Universidades, 1999.

                                    Mark A. Burkholder