Antonio Narino
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Antonio Narino
Antonio Nariño
Nariño by Acevedo Bernal.jpg
Oil painting by Ricardo Acevedo Bernal.
Vice President of the Republic of Colombia

April 4, 1821 - June 6, 1821
PresidentSimón Bolívar
Governor President of the State of Cundinamarca

September 19, 1813 - May 14, 1814
Manuel Benito de Castro
Manuel de Bernardo Álvarez del Casal
Governor President of the State of Cundinamarca and Viceregent of the King's Person

September 21, 1811 - August 19, 1812
MonarchFerdinand VII
Jorge Tadeo Lozano
Manuel Benito de Castro

September 12, 1812 - September 19, 1813
Manuel Benito de Castro
Personal details
Antonio de la Santísima Concepción Nariño y Álvarez

(1765-04-09)April 9, 1765[1]
Bogotá, Viceroyalty of New Granada
DiedDecember 13, 1823(1823-12-13) (aged 58)
Villa de Leyva, Cundinamarca, Colombia
Political partyCentralist
Spouse(s)Magdalena Ortega y Mesa

Antonio Amador José de Nariño Bernardo del Casal (Santa Fé de Bogotá, Colombia 1765 - 1824 Villa de Leyva, Colombia)[1] was a Colombian ideological precursor of the independence movement in New Granada (present day Colombia) as well as one of its early political and military leaders.

Early political activity

Nariño was born to an aristocratic family. He was intellectually curious and admired the political ideologies of the leaders of the French and American Revolutions. In his impressive library there was a portrait of Benjamin Franklin above the mantle. In his youth, Nariño was a strong influence among the progressive young people of Bogotá, Colombia, hosting secret political gatherings where the need for independence and the means of achieving it were discussed. Attendees included later notables Pedro Fermín de Vargas [es], José Antonio Ricaurte [fr], Luis de Rieux, Manuel Torres and Francisco Antonio Zea.[2] Nariño was one of the most outspoken and articulate participants at these meetings, and was widely respected by his fellow revolutionaries.

In 1794, Nariño procured a copy of the "Declaration of the Rights of Man", which was being distributed by the French Assembly. He translated the Declaration of the Rights of Man from its original French into Spanish and printed several copies from his own private press.[3] He then circulated these translated pamphlets among his politically like-minded friends. Copies of the pamphlet were distributed to all corners of the continent and created a stirring in the political mentalities of the time. The government soon discovered the material and any copy that was found was burned. Nariño was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment in Africa for his leading role in the political group and was exiled from South America. In addition to this all his property was confiscated. Nariño had previously worked as a tax collector (Recaudador de diezmos) and was also accused of fraud resulting from this activity.

Recognized as the commander of the centralist republican forces in New Granada, Nariño fought several battles against the federalists organized around the city of Cartagena, Colombia.

Southern campaign

In July 1813, General Nariño began an intensive military campaign against the Spanish and Royalist forces in the south, intending to reach Pasto and eventually Quito.

Nariño's forces, known as the Army of the South, numbering 1500 to 2000 men, managed to capture Popayán in January 1814 after defeating the Royalist forces in the area in a series of initially successful battles.

After stopping to reorganize the city's government and his own forces, he pressed on towards Pasto. Historians have speculated that, had he not stopped at Popayán but actually decisively pursued the fleeing Royalist army, he might have been able to successfully capture a relatively undefended Pasto.

Antonio Nariño.jpg

As things happened, the constant raids of Royalist guerrillas, the harshness of the terrain, the lack of promised reinforcements from Antioquia, and the delays in bringing up his army's artillery contributed to weakening the morale of many of the troops under Nariño's command, when they had practically reached the gates of Pasto.

After being wounded during combat, a false rumor of his death was spread, and most of the remaining soldiers scattered, only some 400 returning to Popayán. Nariño, left practically alone in the battlefield, attempted to hide, but surrendered himself when Royalist scouts found him. He was taken into Pasto in May 1814, and then sent to the Royal prison at Cádiz via Quito.

Later years

Watercolor by Ricardo Acevedo Bernal

Nariño was freed in 1821 after the revolt of Rafael del Riego, and returned to his home country, Colombia, now independent from Spain after the republican victory at the Battle of Boyacá.

Nariño was one of the candidates for election to the presidency of Gran Colombia in 1821, which he lost to Simón Bolívar by the significant margin of 50 to 6 votes in the Congress held at Cúcuta, finishing second. He also lost the election for vice president, with Francisco de Paula Santander eventually defeating him by a 38 to 19 vote margin after several heated rounds of voting. His enemies did not want him to be in power because of his origin from Cundinamarca. To make sure he did not get elected they accused him of malfeasance of public funds, cowardice, and treason. This is also the year where a constituent assembly met in Cúcuta to draft a constitution for the new state.

Nariño died in 1824, having become a national hero of Colombia. He is mentioned in the last stanza of the Colombian national anthem. At the foot of his memorial statue in Bogotá he is quoted: "I have loved my country; only History will say what this love has been." The presidential palace of the Republic of Colombia, Casa de Nariño or Palacio de Nariño, was constructed at the site of his birthplace and named in his honor.


  1. ^ a b Hector, M., and A. Ardila. Hombres y mujeres en las letras de Colombia. 2. Bogota: Magisterio, 2008. 25. Print.
  2. ^ Bowman, Charles H. Jr. (September 1971). "Antonio Caballero y Góngora y Manuel Torres: La Cultura en la Nueva Granada". Boletín de Historia y Antigüedades (in Spanish). 58: 435.
  3. ^ MacFarlane, Anthony. Colombia before Independence: Economy, Society, and Politics under Bourbon Rule. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 284-5. Print.


  • Blossom, Thomas (1967). Nariño: Hero of Colombian Independence. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
  • Crow, John A. (1992) [1946]. The Epic of Latin America (4th ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN


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