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Red Against Blue

The Liberal Party in Colombian Politics, 1863 - 1899

Written by Helen Delpar

Publication Year: 2010

“Delpar provides a history of Colombia’s liberal party covering a period in which it was first the dominant party (1863-1885) and then the party of opposition (1886-1899). Delpar’s study is well written and firmly grounded in extensive research [and] will occupy a prominent position in the sparse historiography of the late 19th century Colombia.” – Hispanic American Historical Review (HAHR)
“Delpar has given us a book that is disarmingly unpretentious yet offers considerably more than the title implies. As a discussion of the Liberal Party during the latter part of the 19th century, it is more narrative and descriptive than theoretical and analytical, indeed quite free of both redundant conceptualization and overly self-conscious methodology.
“It pays due attention to historical origins, regional distribution of support the characteristics of Liberal leadership, Liberal doctrine such as it was, the rules of the political game under the constitution of 1863, and the Liberal’s adjustment to opposition status after their fall from power in the 1880s. The author’s tone is clear and she has used an impressive quantity of published sources plus the personal papers of a good number of prominent Liberals.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

List of Tables

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pp. viii

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pp. ix-xiv

In 1979 Colombia was the only Latin American country whose political system was dominated by two political parties - the Liberal and the Conservative, associated with the colors red and blue, respectively - that could trace their origin to the mid-nineteenth century. Elsewhere the political parties born in that era had either disappeared, as in Brazil, or had been...

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1. The Origins of Colombian Liberalism: A Backward Glance

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pp. 1-13

On 4 February 1863 Liberal dignitaries from all over the United States of Colombia1 assembled in the town of Rionegro, a Liberal enclave in the staunchly Conservative state of Antioquia, for the opening session of the constitutional convention that had been convoked to draw up a new fundamental charter for the nation. The Liberal party, as victor in the...

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2. Party Alignment in Nineteenth-Century Colombia: A Regional Survey

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pp. 14-42

The purpose of this chapter is twofold: first, to provide an introduction to the nine Colombian states and to their respective societies and economies and, second, to identify areas of Liberal strength among the various regions and socioeconomic groups in the country. The second of these goals must be approached with caution because of the paucity of relevant ...

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3. A Liberal Profile

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pp. 43-59

This chapter gives the results of a survey of biographical data pertaining to over fifty Liberals who can be said to have constituted the party's elite between 1863 and 1885. By the examination of such data we can identify uniformities which may in turn yield insights into such matters as the origins of the leaders' affiliation with Liberalism and the extent to which ...

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4. The Evolution of Liberal Thought

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pp. 60-83

It has already been seen that most Liberal leaders inherited from their fathers a predisposition toward Liberalism which was tested and strengthened by experiences shared with like-minded contemporaries. Ordinarily they acquired the philosophical underpinnings of their creed in the class room, often from professors who were active in Liberal politics them ...

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5. The Political Process in a Federal Setting

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pp. 84-109

If one accepts the definition of a political party given by Leslie Lipson - "a group of people who are sufficiently like-minded to work together in order to secure control of the government and apply the policies that promote their interests"1 - then Colombia's nineteenth-century Liberals clearly constituted a party. This definition is so broad, however, that it can...

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6. The Crisis of Liberalism

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pp. 110-132

The decade 1875 to 1885 was a time of troubles both for Colombia and for the Liberal party. For much of this period the party was rent by dissension,and at the end of the decade it lost control of the government and was forced to witness the destruction of the institutions created by the 1863 constitution. However, party leaders could take some consolation from the...

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7. In the Role of the Vanquished

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pp. 133-157

The defeat of the revolutionaries of 1884--85 marked the beginning of anew era for the Liberal party. Whereas the Liberals had constituted the dominant party of Colombia after 1863, now they would be cast in the role of the vanquished, and the energies of party leaders would henceforth be directed toward the reconquest of power. Like their Conservative counter ...

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8. Road to Revolution

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pp. 158-184

In the years after 1895 the Liberal party moved inexorably toward armed revolt against the Regeneration. Although the government became less repressive in the last years of the century, Liberal exclusion from public office remained nearly complete. In addition, several other circumstances - increasing Conservative dissension, the onset of an economic...

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pp. 185-191

The civil war that began in October 1899 and lasted until the latter part of1902 became known in Colombian history as the War of the Thousand Days.1 It proved to be the bloodiest conflict in Colombia's first century of independence, with the number of deaths from combat or disease estimated at between 75,000 and 100,000. The war also surpassed any of its...


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pp. 192-236


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pp. 237-257


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pp. 256-262

E-ISBN-13: 9780817383886
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817356156

Publication Year: 2010