Francisco de Paula Santander


In the fight for the independence of Colombia there were many important figures who participated in it, among them was Francisco de Paula Santander , who served as vice president fighting against Simón Bolívar to be able to achieve and establish a federal system , a secular state and make it more liberal .


Personal information

  • When was he born: 04/02/1792
  • Where he was born: Cúcuta, Colombia
  • When he died: 05/06/1840
  • Where he died: Bogotá, Colombia

Who was Francisco de Paula Santander?

Francisco de Paula Santander was one of the most important heroes who fought for Colombian independence , a statesman and a recognized military man who managed to occupy the position of vice president of his country on several occasions.

  • What did
  • Biography of Francisco de Paula Santander
  • Death
  • Military career
  • Performance in the Independence of Colombia
  • Political career
  • Government of Francisco de Paula Santander
  • What study
  • Ideology
  • Contributions of Francisco de Paula Santander
  • Physical characteristics
  • Personality
  • Parents
  • Relations
  • Sons
  • Relationship with Simón Bolívar
  • Importance of Francisco de Paula Santander
  • Acknowledgments
  • Phrases
  • Curiosities

What did

Francisco de Paula Santander was a man who participated in an important way in the independence of Colombia, becoming its first vice president in a constitutional way. He fought in several battles until Simón Bolívar managed to become general and chief of staff and collaborated with him until the independence of Gran Colombia was achieved . He was in charge of the country as vice president when Bolívar was fighting against the Spanish and even confronted him because he disagreed with his authoritarian decisions .

Biography of Francisco de Paula Santander

He was born on April 2, 1792 in Villa del Rosario de Cúcuta . His childhood was lived very comfortably on his father’s properties and he belonged to a social class of good economic condition. In it it was possible to find a mixture of races including the indigenous one . He studied in the city of Bogotá and from a young age, began working for the Liberation Army .


Francisco de Paula Santander died on May 6, 1840 at 6:32 am with family and friends. An autopsy was practiced the day after his death determined that he suffered from stones in the gallbladder and the bile ducts were clogged producing a cholecystitis and cholangitis , diseases which at that time had no treatment. He was buried in the Central Cemetery that he himself had founded.

Military career

His military career was outstanding, he began when he was very young and at the age of 27 he was already a general in the division. In a few years he managed to climb the military positions, he was a lieutenant , a captain alongside the Federalists and was even a prisoner for a time. After leaving, he held the position of sergeant major and with this, began his fight for independence . On June 4, 1814, he was promoted to colonel and commander- in-chief of the army. After a time he decided to resign and was then appointed as deputy chief of the General Staff for the reorganization of the army.

In 1818 he was promoted to brigadier general of the Venezuelan armies and was in charge of reorganizing the forces that were dispersed and that was how he managed to eliminate the Spanish invasion in New Granada and then return to Venezuela. In his military career he managed to impose discipline , was in charge of logistics and designed the plan to invade the Viceroyalty of New Granada , from which he emerged victorious.

Performance in the Independence of Colombia

His role in the independence of Colombia was of great importance, he was part of the Infantry Battalion of National Guards where he managed to rise to be able to fight for the freedom of the country. He also participated in the defense of Valle de Cúcuta against the royalist troops that had arrived from Spain and managed to organize a withdrawal after the defeat suffered in Cachirí . He also had a fundamental role in the Battle of El Yagual from where he emerged victorious. After winning the Battle of Boyacá , he ordered the shooting of Commander José María Barreiro, an act that was considered his first confrontation.against Simón Bolívar .

Political career

In 1819 he was appointed as vice president of the State of Cundinamarca while Simón Bolívar held the position of president. In 1826 , there was a major crisis among the followers and opponents of Simón Bolívar because he was accused of ruling in an authoritarian way. It was then that Francisco de Paula Santander participated in the Septembrina Conspiracy and was later accused of treason and sentenced to death , however, Bolívar gave him a pardon .

Government of Francisco de Paula Santander

After several years and after Greater Colombia was eliminated, he returned to his country from exile. After the signing of the constitution of the State of New Granada, he held the position of President of the Republic . During his government, he dedicated himself to developing the new bases to found the state , managed to increase the export of agricultural products and managed to unify the currency in the country. It made the country the first state in Latin America to officially recognize the Holy See. In his government he made it understood that he did not agree with the presidency for life andhereditary nor with the appointment of the vice president by the president. During his tenure, he was known as the Man of Laws and as the Organizer of Victory .

What study

He studied at the Colegio Mayor located in San Bartolomé de Bogotá thanks to a scholarship he had obtained and finally graduated as a Bachelor of Philosophy . He also entered the University of Santo Tomás to study law .


Many experts consider that his ideology was a set of coherent systematic ideas that always led him to action. For him the laws were important and they were the ones that should govern a nation, and he also thought that the power that the congress had was even more powerful than that of the president himself .

Contributions of Francisco de Paula Santander

His main contributions were the following:

  • Together with Simón Bolívar he managed to achieve the independence of New Granada .
  • He freed the Government of Quito.
  • He supported Bolívar with resources , arms and men to participate in the southern campaign.
  • He delivered to Ecuador and Peru thus forming the Bolivian nation.
  • Upon being appointed as president, he dedicates his life to organizing the nation .
  • He is known as the founder of public education in Colombia .

Physical characteristics

He was a man who had indigenous features , his skin was dark , his hair was straight black and prominent black eyebrows , he used a mustache and his nose was quite large and pointed, he was also a tall and thin man .


He was a man with a very firm personality , full of energy and hardworking . He was also very attentive and chivalrous , he liked to party and some say he was also a womanizer. Many describe his personality as complex , somewhat rationalistic, and as a free thinker.


His father was Juan Agustín Santander y Colmenares who was the governor of San Faustino de los Ríos and who was also dedicated to cultivating cocoa. His mother, Manuela Antonia de Omaña y Rodríguez.


He had sentimental relations with Bernardina al de Bolívar and with Nicolasa . Contracted marriage with Sixta Ponton , a 21 – year – old came from a good family. They were married in the church of Soacha. She also had two lovers, Nicolasa Ibáñez and Paz Piedrahita Sanz who was the mother of her son Francisco.


In his unofficial romantic relationships he had five children, two girls and three boys. At the age of 19 he had his son Manuel with a mariquiteña and fathered a second son named Francisco de Paula, whom he recognized as a natural son. On December 20, 1836, their first child of the marriage was born and then two more daughters were born , Clementina Mercedes Digna Rosa and Sixta Tulia de la Concepción Francisca . The name of his first-born was Juan but he died a few hours after being born.

Relationship with Simón Bolívar

Both characters participated together to achieve the independence of Colombia , however, they also had their great differences that led them at a time to confront each other . Bolívar was authoritarian and militaristic while Francisco de Paula Santander was a liberal and civilist . For Bolívar it was necessary to maintain the figure of the president for life and to centralize power in the government while Francisco de Paula Santander wanted a nation that was federalist and that the executive had limitsof power. These two characters have been part of the fundamental bases for the construction of the Republic .

Importance of Francisco de Paula Santander

Francisco de Paula Santander has been a very important character for the country as he was the main source of legitimacy in all aspects of public life as his influence has been maintained over the years. Thanks to him, the institutions have a civilian character militarism was rejected and the law was established above force while he was in power.

Thanks to his contributions, the country does not accept military dictatorships and he was also the first president who managed to establish the public education system in Colombia, promoting the creation of many schools, colleges and universities where a totally secular education was taught that was mainly oriented to a liberal philosophy . He is considered one of the most important exponents of democracy , of the homeland , of adherence to the law and justice .


Some of his main recognitions were the following:

  • The Santander General Police Cadet School bears his name.
  • The municipality of Santander de Quilichao changed its name in his honor.
  • His face was printed on the 1 peso, 100, 500 and 2000 bills .
  • The place where the independence battle took place has a statue of him made of bronze with a height of 9 meters.
  • In his birthplace the Santander House Museum and the History Academy were founded .
  • park in downtown Bogotá was named after him.
  • The main square of the National University of Colombia is known as Plaza Santander.
  • The Francisco de Paula Santander University was created in his honor .


Among his most recognized phrases are the following:

  • Colombians, the arms have given you independence, but only the laws will give you freedom.
  • Citizens of Cúcuta, forge the destinies of the Republic.
  • The last day of my life will be the first in which New Granada will not see its independence, its honor and its freedoms occupied.
  • The sword of the liberators must be subject to the laws of the Republic.
  • Moderation, tolerance and justice rule the heart and disarm discontent.


Francisco de Paula Santander was characterized by having many love affairs before getting married and even had a mistress after getting married. He was a president who died very young because he was only 48 years old on the day of his death. He was the first president to officially recognize the Holy See .

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