Francisco Javier Zaldúa

Francisco Javier Martínez de Zaldúa y Racines was a Colombian, lawyer and politician, elected President of Colombia in 1882.[1]

Francisco Javier Zaldúa
Altered photograph of Francisco Javier Zaldúa by John A. Bennet ca. 1850.
14th President of the United States of Colombia
In office
April 1, 1882 – December 21, 1882
Preceded byRafael Núñez
Succeeded byClímaco Calderón
Secretary of Foreign Affairs
In office
April 3, 1878 – September 1878
PresidentJulián Trujillo Largacha
Preceded byEustorgio Salgar
President of the Rionegro Convention
In office
February 4, 1863 – May 8, 1863
Vice PresidentEustorgio Salgar
Preceded byOffice created*
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Secretary of Government
In office
April 1, 1849 – April 22, 1850
PresidentJosé Hilario López
Personal details
Francisco Javier Martínez de Zaldúa y Racines

(1811-12-03)December 3, 1811
Bogotá, Cundinamarca, United States of Colombia
DiedDecember 21, 1882(1882-12-21) (aged 71)
Bogotá, Cundinamarca, United States of Colombia
Cause of deathMyocardial infarction[1]
Political partyLiberal
SpouseDolores Orbegozo y Mantilla
Alma materColegio de San Bartolomé
OccupationJudge, Prosecutor, Professor

Biographic dataEdit

Zaldúa was born in Bogotá, Cundinamarca, on December 3, 1811.[2] He died in the same city, in the Government Palace, on December 21, 1882. He was the first Colombian President to die while in office.[3]

Early lifeEdit

His father was don Manuel Maria Zaldúa, a prominent member of the Nueva Granada high society and a very wealthy man. He donated most of his fortune to the cause of independence and in particular to General Antonio Nariño. When the Spanish "Pacificador", General Pablo Morillo, made his triumphant entry in Bogotá, the Zaldúa family was attending the military parade. Zaldúa's father was so offended and outraged, that he suffered a massive heart attack and died instantly.[2]

Zaldúa studied jurisprudence and theology at the "Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé", where he graduated with a double mayor and obtained diplomas in Law and Divinity.[2]

Professional careerEdit

Zaldúa was a professor of Civil Law and Canonical Law between 1837 and 1866. He later entered the judicial branch where he advanced all the way to Justice of the Supreme Court.[2] As President of this legislative body, Zaldúa became the de facto President of the United States of Colombia for 6 days, when President Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera ceded executive power to the convention, and until the said convention elected a Council of Ministers to serve collectively as the Colombian head of state.

Political careerEdit

Zaldúa initiated his political career by being elected to the City Council of Bogotá. In 1840 he was elected to the House of Representatives and, later to the Senate, both in representation of his native state of Cundinamarca. He was also appointed as Minister of Government during the administration of President José Hilario López.[4]

Zaldúa served as President of the Rionegro Convention, a constituent assembly that created the United States of Colombia, now the Republic of Colombia.[4]


In 1881, the presidential campaign to succeed the conservative President Rafael Núñez was taking place. Zaldúa was a man of immense prestige and reputation and José María Rojas Garrido nominated him as candidate for the presidency. The Colombian Liberal Party, which had been divided for many years, united around his name.[2]

Zaldúa was 71 years old by then. Former president Aquileo Parra led the convention's commission that went to his home to request his acceptance. Zaldúa, in his acceptance speech said: “In the sunset of my life, I have nothing else to offer to the liberal party, but my last days. I hereby accept this nomination as my death sentence”. The Conservative Party abstained from the elections, and Zaldúa defeated fellow Liberal Solón Wilches. He was inaugurated on April 1, 1882.[5]


  1. ^ a b Cardona Alzate, Jorge (2016-11-20). "Las enfermedades del poder en Colombia". El Espectador (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-08-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e Arizmendi Posada 1983, p. 117.
  3. ^ Arizmendi Posada 1983, p. 120.
  4. ^ a b Arizmendi Posada 1983, p. 118.
  5. ^ Arizmendi Posada 1983, p. 119.


Arizmendi Posada, Ignacio (1983). Gobernantes colombianos, 1819-1983 (in Spanish) (2a ed.). Bogotá: Interprint.