José María Campo Serrano

José María Campo Serrano

Infobox President
name = José María Campo Serrano

order = 1st
office = President of Colombia
term_start = April 1, 1886
term_end = January 6, 1887
predecessor = "(none)"
"see Rafael Núñez, last President of the United States of Colombia"
successor = Eliseo Payán
office2 = President of Magdalena
term_start2 = 1871
term_end2 = 1874
predecessor2 = Manuel Abello
successor2 = José Ignacio Diaz Granados
term_start3 = 1879
term_end3 = 1884
predecessor3 = Luis Antonio Robles
successor3 = M.S. Ramón
office4 = President of Antioquia
term_start4 = March 12, 1885
term_end4 = September 21, 1885
predecessor4 = Luciano Restrepo Escobar
successor4 = Marceliano Vélez Barreneche
office5 = Governor of Panama
term_start5 = January, 1900
term_end5 = June, 1900
predecessor5 = Facundo Mutis Durán
successor5 = Alejandro Orillac
birth_date = September 8, 1832
birth_place = Santa Marta, Magdalena
death_date = death date and age|1915|02|24|1832|9|8
death_place = Santa Marta, Magdalena
nationality = Colombian
party = Conservative
spouse = Rosa Riascos García
alma_mater = Seminario Conciliar de Santa Marta
occupation = Lawyer, Soldier (General)
religion = Roman Catholic
José María Campo Serrano (September 8, 1832January 6, 1915) was a Colombian lawyer, general, and statesman, who became President of Colombia after the resignation of the President and the dismissal of the Vice President. He sanctioned the Constitution of 1886 that created the Republic of Colombia proceeding the United States of Colombia. A Samarian Costeño, he became president of the Sovereign State of Magdalena, and Antioquia, Governor of Panama, and held various Ministries during his career as a politician.

Early life and education

José María Campo Serrano was born on September 8, 1832 in Santa Marta, Magdalena during what was then the Republic of the New Granada. He was the first child of Andrés del Campo and María Josefa Serrano.He completed his studies in the Seminario Conciliar de Santa Marta, and later attended the Colegio Provincial Santander, where he studied Law and Philosophy [cite web|url =|title =El samario más importante en la historia nacional|accessdate =2007-10-27|last =Ibarra Monroy|first =Mario|date = 2007-09-08|publisher =EL INFORMADOR|language =Spanish] . He was married to Rosa Riascos García [cite web|url =|title = Colombia, Primeras Damas|author =Revista Credencial Historia|edition = 80| accessdate= 2007-10-28|origyear=1996 |origmonth=August|location=Bogotá|publisher = Luís Ángel Arango Library|language = Spanish] .

Political career


Campo Serrano started his political life in his home state of Magdalena. There he served various positions at different levels of government, he was a member of the legislative assembly of Magdalena, Prosecutor General, and member of the Chamber of Representatives and Senate of Colombia for Magdalena [cite web| url = | title =José María Campo Serrano| accessdate =2007-10-27| author =Enciclopedia Microsoft Encarta Online 2007| authorlink =Encarta| publisher =Microsoft Corporation| language =Spanish] . He also served twice as President of the Sovereign State of Magdalena, first between 1871–1874, and from 1879–1884 [cite book | last =Pereira| first =Ricardo S.| url =,M1| title =Les Etats-Unis de Colombie : précis d'histoire et de géographie, physique, politique et commerciale: contenant un grand nombre de renseignments utiles aux voyageurs et aux négociants, de courtes notices biographiques des personnages célèbres de la Colombie| publisher =C. Marpon et E. Flammarion| origyear =1883| accessdate = 2007-10-27|location =Paris| language =French| page = pp. 204–205 | chapter =État de Magdalena| oclc =751427] [cite web|url =|title =Colombian States 1855–1886 (and Panama 1508–1903)|accessdate = 2007-10-27|work =Colombia |language =English] .

His administrations were focused mainly on the construction and expansion of railways to foment commerce and industry in the region and connect the country with the port, part of this goal was accomplished in 1881 when contracts were made to start the construction of a railroad to connect Santa Marta with El Banco [cite web|url =|title =Una trayectoria que benefició a dos regiones|accessdate =2007-10-27|date = 2007-09-08|publisher = EL INFORMADOR|language =Spanish] .


During the Colombian Civil war of 1885 José María Campo Serrano served as Civil and Military Chief of the Sovereign State of Antioquia between March 14, and September 21 of 1885 [cite web|url =|title =Colombian States 1855-86|accessdate = 2007-10-27|authorlink|work = Rulers of Colombia|language =English] .

His administration's goal was to contain the civil insurgency and discourage political opposition. One way Campo Serrano did this was by redistricting some of electoral districts that favored the radical rebels, like the districts of La Unión [cite web | url =| title = Reseña Historica La Unión|author = Municipio de La Unión, Antioquia| language=Spanish |accessdate = 2007-10-27] and Pabón [cite web | url = | title =Conozca a Gómez Plata| author =Municipio de Gómez Plata , Antioquia | accessdate = 2007-10-27 | date = 2006-10-04 | language =Spanish] .

As in Magdalena, Campo Serrano was interested in the fomentation of railways, something he accomplished on August 18, 1885 when negotiations with the private sector were made to improve and expand the railways of Antioquia [cite book | last =Latorre| first =Gabriel| title = Francisco Javier Cisneros y el Ferrocarril de Antioquia ; reseña historica.| origyear =1924| url =| format =PDF| accessdate =2007-10-27| publisher = Tip. Helios| location =Medellín| language =Spanish| oclc =3263897| pages =p. 25] . General Campo Serrano left the Presidency of Antioquia to represent the Constituent Assembly in Bogotá.


General Campo Serrano became an active member in the administrations of various presidents as a member of their Council of Ministers. The first post he had in these was in 1882 during the presidency of Francisco Javier Zaldúa, where he was Minister of Public Instruction in charge of national education, a post he got again on April 1, 1884, when Ezequiel Hurtado also made Campo Serrano his Minister of Public Instruction [cite book | title =Cronicas de Bogotá | last = Ibáñez | first =Pedro María | url =|publisher = Imprenta Nacional| origyear =1913| location=Bogotá|language=Spanish|accessdate|2007-10-27] .

In the administration of Rafael Núñez, he worked in two ministries, the Ministry of War, in which he had to confront the Civil war of 1885, and the Ministry of Finance, which he left to go to Antioquia.

His last ministerial post was as Minister of Government during the presidency of Miguel Antonio Caro.Infobox Minister
name = José María Campo Serrano
office = Minister of Public Instruction
president = Francisco Javier Zaldúa
term_start = April 1, 1882
term_end = December 21, 1882
office2 = Minister of Public Instruction
president2 = Ezequiel Hurtado
term_start2 = April 1, 1884
term_end2 = August 11, 1884
office3 = Minister of War
president3 = Ezequiel Hurtado
Rafael Núñez

term_start3 = April 1, 1884
term_end3 = March 12, 1885
predecessor3 = Juan Mateus
successor = Leopoldo Cuervo
office4 = Ministry of Finance
president4 = Rafael Núñez
office5 = Minister of Government
president5 = Miguel Antonio Caro

Presidency 1886–1887

On December 9, 1885 the Constituent Assembly elected Rafael Núñez as president, Eliseo Payán as vice president, and José María Campo Serrano as designate [cite book |last= Pombo |first= Manuel Antonio |coauthors= Guerra, José Joaquín |title= Constituciones de Colombia |origyear= 1982 |= |url= |accessdate= 2007-10-26 |publisher= Imprenta de Echeverria Hermanos |location= Bogotá|language= Spanish |oclc=19748967|pages= p. 361|chapter= República de Colombia] . J.M. Campo Serrano, came to power in a very unusual way; on March 30, 1886, president Núñez presented his resignation to Congress due to his poor health condition caused by dysentery. The Vice President, as the next in line of succession, had many enemies in congress, and on May 4, Congress revoked Eliseo Payán of his position as vice president [cite book | last = Cordovez Moure|first = José María| title = Reminiscencias de Santafé y Bogota | url = | accessdate = 2007-10-26 | year = 1959 | publisher = Organización Continental de los Festivales del Libro | location = Caracas | language = Spanish| isbn = 9589733492 | oclc =678890 |pages = pp. 2475–2476 | chapter = Años 1886-1888 | ref =] .

On April 1, 1886 [cite book |last= Monsalve Martiínez|first= Manuel|title= Colombia, posesiones presidenciales [1810-1954] |accessdate= 2007-10-26|year= 1954|publisher=Editorial Iqueima |location= Bogotá|language= Spanish|oclc=3956382|pages= p. 26] , with no vice president and the president resigning, the Presidential-Designate José María Campo Serrano as the next in line to assume the executive power was sworn in as Acting President of the United States of Colombia [cite web |url = |title = General José María Campo Serrano|accessdate = 2007-10-26
date = 2006-09-24|publisher = Fuerza Aérea Colombiana|language = Spanish
] .


Of the short presidency of Campo Serrano some of the policies of importance that were made were more of a local impact than of large national impact policy. Some of the projects of his administration were the contracts for the installation and construction of public lighting and potable water services to Bogotá [cite web|url =|title = José María Campo Serrano|accessdate = 2007-10-27|last = Ocampo López|first = Javier |origdate=2004-12-06|work = Gran Enciclopedia de Colombia del Círculo de Lectores|publisher = Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango|language = Spanish] . He also continued advocating for rail transportation and railways, and in 1887 the Train of the Savanna started operating connecting Bogotá with the near cities of Facatativá and Zipaquirá, and it continues in service today.

One of the Decrees made by Campo Serrano as President of Colombia was in regards to the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, the house where the Libertador Simón Bolívar died. The house was of private property and the owners had offered to sell it to the government, but for an outrageous amount of money. In an executive order in 1886, Campo Serrano seized the property and placed it under the administration of the Department of Magdalena to administer it [cite web |url= |title=La Quinta de san Pedro Alejandrino| accessdate=2007-10-27|author=HOY Diario del Magdalena|language=Spanish] .

Although he was allowed, Campo Serrano did not choose to live in the Palacio de San Carlos, the then Presidential Palace, opting to continue living at his normal residence [cite book | title =Narraciones: Capitulos para una historia de Bogota| first=Eduardo| last=Posada| url=,M1 | page= p. 199| chapter = 10| publisher =Libreria Americana| origyear =1906| language =Spanish| accessdate =2007-10-28] .

Constitution of 1886

The Constituent Assembly that was called in session in 1885 by Rafael Núñez to draft a new constitution passed its final resolution on August 4, 1886. The next day, President Campo Serrano and his Council of Ministers sanctioned the constitution, making it official and changing the name of the country to Republic of Colombia, and in so, Campo Serrano become its first president.


The 1st President of the newly established Republic of Colombia, stepped down on January 6, 1887 ceding the power to Eliseo Payán, who in the absence of Núñez became acting president.


José María Campo Serrano was once again called into politics and war to go to Panama, where the liberal rebels were fighting the conservative government, as Panama was one of the stages of the Thousand Days War. Because of his political and military credentials he was named Governor of the Department of Panama, replacing the then governor, Facundo Mutis Durán, on January of 1900cite book | title = Panama: A Personal Record of Forty-six Years, 1861–1907| last =Robinson | first =Tracy | publisher = Star and herald Co.| origyear =1907|language=English| oclc=1592953|location=New York|accessdate=2007-10-27] .

Campo Serrano came in strong, he brought reinforcements to the region from different parts of the country, as by now the war was concentrating its efforts on Panama and the Caribbean Region. He used the strategic impact of railways to mobilize troops and clear adjacent areas [cite book| last =Juan B.| first =Sosa| coauthors =Arce, Enrique J.| title=Compendio de historia de Panamá| url =| format =PDF| accessdate =2007-10-27| year =1911| publisher =Morales & Rodríguez| location = Panamá| language =Spanish| oclc =2531740] .

The war however was getting more complicated, and General Campo Serrano had to leave to Barranquilla to buy weapons and bring reinforcements passing on the governorship to Alejandro Orillac as acting governor. Although General Campo Serrano’s leave cause an intensification of the rebel forces, the war came to an end in 1992, cementing the way for the separation of Panama from Colombia.

Death and legacy

José María Campo Serrano died in his home in Santa Marta on February 24, 1915 at the age of 92.

He is considered by many as the most influential Samarian in history. His most enduring legacy by far was the Constitution of 1886 which was the Law of the Land for almost 105 years when it was replaced by the Constitution of 1991.

ee also

* Colombian Constitution of 1886
* Thousand Days War
* United States of Colombia
* Luis Antonio Robles


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