4to., (12 x 8 ½ inches). Half title (slight offsetting, very occasional spotting). Engraved frontispiece on pâpier de chine (light offsetting to title page). Original publisher’s full purple roan elaborately decorated in gilt, each cover with a broad border of gilt fillets and foliate roll tool, with blind tooling at each inner corner, the title stamped in gilt on the front cover surrounded by an inner border of elaborate flower tools repeated on the back cover, the smooth spine elaborately decorated with fine gilt flower tools, with the publisher’s ticket on the inside front cover (head and foot of the spine chipped with loss, other extremities a bit worn).
Provenance: Contemporary manuscript corrections to the text, ?publisher.
First edition. Scarce. Includes a brief biography of President Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera (1798-1878) of the Republic of New Granada, from his enlistment in the Popayán (Colombia) army at age 15, to his involvement in the founding of La República Nueva Granada (which consisted of present-day Colombia and Panama, and parts of modern Ecuador and Venezuela) in 1830, to his rise to the Presidency of the Republic in 1845. Dated March 1, 1849, this “Mensaje” appears to be Mosquera’s farewell address to his Cabinet as he left office that year, which he calls the “40 de la Independencia.” This is likely a reference to the Luz de América, which, in 1809, was the first call for independence from Spain in the region. In this address, Mosquera looks back on his presidency and touts his many political achievements.
Mosquera’s presidency of the Republic of New Granada was only the beginning of his political career, however. After he left office, he moved to New York City to devote himself to his family business. While there, he was a member of several scientific societies, and wrote “Memoria sobre la geografía, física y política de Nueva Granada.” In 1854, he returned to his homeland to fight in the “artisans’ revolution” to overthrow the dictator José María Melo. “By the end of the 1850s, Colombia was torn by civil war as the Liberals and Conservatives fought for control. Mosquera took the side of the Liberals. With the army under his command, he took Bogotá (July 1861) and declared himself president. He ruled as a dictator until a new Liberal constitution was adopted (1863), which provided for a two-year presidential term and changed the name of the country to the United States of Colombia” (Encyclopedia Britannica).
During this time, Mosquera enacted several measures aimed at curbing the power of the Catholic Church, and in particular the Jesuits, who still showed strong support for the Conservative factions. He compelled the sale of Church lands which were then redistributed, and Jesuits were banned from the country. In 1863 Colombia went to war with Ecuador, whose Conservative president, Gabriel Garcia Moreno, had attempted to unify the fractious Ecuador by handing power over to the Catholic Church. Mosquera provided aid to the Ecuadorian liberals in order to overthrow Moreno, seeing the opportunity to recreate Greater Colombia by redrawing borders. After Mosquera managed to invade Ecuador and decimate Moreno’s troops, the two sides agreed to an armistice, ultimately signing the Treaty of Pinsaqui on December 30, 1863, in which both sides agreed to retain the pre-war borders.
After the new constitution was adopted, Mosquera ran for President and was elected. “Not fully trusting Mosquera, the Liberals limited his first term to one year (1864–65). He was reelected in 1865, however, and soon imposed a dictatorship. His rule was overthrown in 1867, and he was exiled for two years. He returned to Colombia to serve as president of the state of Cauca and as senator, retiring from public life in 1876” (Encyclopedia Britannica). There appear to be only six copies in libraries worldwide, so this “Message from the President of the Republic” is quite rare.