Manuel José Arce
Manuel José Arce was the son of Spaniard Bernardo José de Arce, the Colonial Intendent of the Province of San Salvador from 1800 until 1801, and Antonia Fagoaga. He was born in what is now El Salvador. In 1801 he was sent to Guatemala to continue his education. There he graduated in philosophy from the Colegio de San Francisco Borja. He began the study of medicine at the Universidad de San Carlos de Borromeo, but it was interrupted because of his father's sickness. In December 1808, he married Felipa de Aranzamendi y Aguiar in San Salvador.
Arce joined the movement for independence from Spain, joining in the first Cry for Independence on November 5, 1811 in San Salvador. It was led by his uncle, Jose Matias Delgado, the vicar of San Salvador. The rebels held the government for nearly a month before royal authority was restored from Guatemala. Arce was also involved in the second uprising that began January 22, 1814. This cost him four years in prison.
He strongly opposed the Mexican Empire of Agustín de Iturbide. In April 1822 Manuel Arzú, in command of Guatemalan troops supporting Mexico, occupied the cities of Santa Ana, El Salvador, and Sonsonate. On June 3, 1822, Arzú entered San Salvador, reaching the Plaza Mayor. Nine hours of fighting resulted in many casualties and burned houses. Colonel Arce was one of the commanders of the Salvadoran defenders.
Arce was also a member of the resistance towards the movement that was requesting annexation to the United States. The government of El Salvador had requested annexation to the United States on December 2, 1822.
In October 1823 he left the United States to return to El Salvador. He stopped in Mexico. There he tried to raise a force to liberate Cuba from Spanish rule but it failed.
Also in October 1823 he was elected a member of the executive triumvirate of Central America. He accepted this post on March 15, 1824 on his return to the country, serving until October 20, 1824. During this time the government succeeded in pacifying Nicaragua, with a minimum of violence.
Presidential elections were held in 1825, and José Cecilio del Valle won the most votes. The Liberals, however, controlled the federal Congress, and they decided that Valle had not won an absolute majority. They chose Arce as president. He served from April 29, 1825 to April 13, 1829.
He soon lost the support of the Liberals in Congress. After 1826 neither house of the federal Congress met. Arce obtained some support from the clergy and the Conservative Party, but there were difficulties with the State of Guatemala. He deposed the Guatemalan state governor, Juan Barrundia, a Liberal, and replaced him. The Salvadoran state government was angry and rebelled, and a civil war started that lasted from 1826 to 1829.
He finally returned to El Salvador in 1842, but soon he fled to Honduras and Guatemala. In April and May 1844 he directed some armed attempts to overthrow General Francisco Malespín in El Salvador. He returned again to the country in the middle of 1845. He left politics for a more private life in 1846, working on his book Brief Indications for the Reorganization of Central America.
Arce died in poverty in San Salvador on December 14, 1847. His remains were interred at La Merced Church in San Salvador. On November 28, 1947 the Legislature elevated the town of El Chilamatal to a city, renaming it in the process city of Ciudad Arce.
- (Spanish) Short biography
- (Spanish) Brief biography
- Some background information from Britannica Online
José Cecilio del Valle
|President of Central America