Francisco Largo Caballero

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Francisco Largo Caballero
Francisco Largo Caballero 1927 (cropped).jpg
Prime Minister of Spain
In office
4 September 1936 – 17 May 1937
PresidentManuel Azaña
Preceded byJosé Giral Pereira
Succeeded byJuan Negrín López
Minister of War
In office
4 September 1936 – 17 May 1937
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byJuan Hernández Saravia
Succeeded byIndalecio Prieto
President of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
In office
12 October 1932 – 1 July 1936
Preceded byRemigio Cabello
Succeeded byRamón González Peña
Minister of Labour and Social Security
In office
14 April 1931 – 12 September 1933
Prime MinisterManuel Azaña
Preceded byGabriel Maura Gamazo
Succeeded byCarles Pi i Suner
Member of the Congress of Deputies
In office
14 July 1931 – 31 March 1939
In office
18 May 1918 – 1 June 1919
Personal details
Born(1869-10-15)15 October 1869
Madrid, Kingdom of Spain
Died23 March 1946(1946-03-23) (aged 76)
Paris, France
Political partyPSOE

Francisco Largo Caballero (15 October 1869 – 23 March 1946) was a Spanish politician and trade unionist. He was one of the historic leaders of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) and of the Workers' General Union (UGT). In 1936 and 1937 Caballero served as the Prime Minister of the Second Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War.


Early years[edit]

Born in Madrid, as a young man he made his living stuccoing walls. He participated in a construction workers strike in 1890 and joined the PSOE in 1894. Upon the death in 1925 of party founder Pablo Iglesias, he succeeded him as head of the party and of the UGT.[1]

Political career[edit]

Moderate in his positions at the beginning of his political life, he advocated maintaining a degree of UGT cooperation with the dictatorial government of General Miguel Primo de Rivera, which permitted the union to continue functioning under his military dictatorship (that lasted from 1923 to 1930).[2] This was the start of his political conflict with Indalecio Prieto, who opposed all collaboration with the dictatorial regime.

He was Minister of Labor Relations between 1931 and 1933, in the first governments of the Second Spanish Republic, headed by Niceto Alcalá-Zamora, and in that of his successor Manuel Azaña.[3] Caballero attempted to improve the conditions of landless labourers (braceros) in the rural south. On 28 April 1931 he introduced a decree of municipal boundaries to prevent the importation of foreign labour while there remained unemployed workers within the municipality. In May he established mixed juries (jurados mixtos) to arbitrate in agrarian labour disputes, and introduced an eight-hour working day in the countryside. Alongside these, a decree on obligatory cultivation prevented owners from using their land however they wanted.[4] He enjoyed great popularity among the masses of workers, who saw their own austere existences reflected in his way of life.[1]

In the elections of 19 November 1933, the right-wing Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right (CEDA) won power in Spain. The government nominally led by the centrist Radical Alejandro Lerroux was dependent on CEDA's parliamentary support. Responding to this reversal of fortune, Largo abandoned his moderate positions, began to talk of "socialist revolution", and became the leader of the left (Marxist and revolutionary) wing of the UGT and the PSOE.[5] In early October 1934, after three CEDA ministers entered the government, he was one of the leaders of the failed armed rising of workers (mainly in Asturias) which was forcefully put down by the CEDA-dominated government.[6]

He defended the pact of alliance with the other workers' political parties and trade unions, such as the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) and the anarchist trade union, the Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo (CNT). Once again, this placed him at odds with Prieto.[7] He declared, that he, Largo Caballero "shall be the second Lenin", whose aim is the union of Iberian Soviet republics.[dead link][8]

After the Popular Front won the elections in February 1936, president Manuel Azaña proposed that Prieto join the government, but Largo blocked these attempts at collaboration between PSOE and the Republican government.[9] Largo dismissed fears of a military coup, and predicted that, were it to happen, a general strike would defeat it, opening the door to the workers' revolution.

In the event, the coup attempt by the colonial army and the right came on 17 July 1936. While not immediately successful, further actions by rebellious army units sparked the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), in which the republic was ultimately defeated and destroyed.

Prime Minister of Spain[edit]

Francisco Largo Caballero's office, kept in the Archives of the Labor Movement in Alcalá de Henares.
Monument of Largo Caballero

On 4 September 1936, a few months into the civil war, Largo Caballero was designated Prime Minister and Minister of War.[10] Besides conducting the war, he also focused on maintaining military discipline and government authority within the Republic.[11] On 4 November 1936 Largo Caballero persuaded the anarchist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT; "National Confederation of Labour") to join the government, with four members assigned to junior ministries including Justice, Health and Trade. The decision was controversial with the CNT members.[12]

The Barcelona May Days led to a governmental crisis[13] that forced Caballero to resign on 17 May 1937. Juan Negrín, also a member of the PSOE, was appointed Prime Minister in his stead.[14]

The cabinet, formed on 4 September 1936 and reshuffled on 4 November 1936, consisted of:[15]

Ministry Start End Officeholder Party
Prime Minister and War 4 September 1936 17 May 1937 Francisco Largo Caballero PSOE (left)
State (Foreign Affairs) 4 September 1936 17 May 1937 Julio Álvarez del Vayo PSOE (left)
Finance 4 September 1936 17 May 1937 Juan Negrín López PSOE (moderate)
Interior 4 September 1936 17 May 1937 Ángel Galarza PSOE (left)
Industry and Commerce 4 September 1936 4 November 1936 Anastasio de Gracia Villarrubia PSOE (moderate)
Industry 4 November 1936 17 May 1937 Juan Peiró Belis CNT
Commerce 4 November 1936 17 May 1937 Juan López Sánchez CNT
Navy and Air 4 September 1936 17 May 1937 Indalecio Prieto Tuero PSOE (moderate)
Education and Fine Arts 4 September 1936 17 May 1937 Jesús Hernández Tomás PCE
Agriculture 4 September 1936 17 May 1937 Vicente Uribe Galdeano PCE
Justice 4 September 1936 4 November 1936 Mariano Ruiz-Funes García IR
4 November 1936 17 May 1937 Juan García Oliver CNT
Communications and Merchant Marine 4 September 1936 17 May 1937 Bernardo Giner de los Ríos UR
Labor and Health 4 September 1936 4 November 1936 José Tomás y Piera ERC
Labor and Planning 4 November 1936 15 May 1937 Anastasio de Gracia Villarrubia PSOE (moderate)
Health and Social Assistance 4 November 1936 17 May 1937 Federica Montseny Mañé CNT
Public Works 4 September 1936 15 September 1936 Vicente Uribe Galdeano (Interim) PCE
15 September 1936 17 May 1937 Julio Just Gimeno IR
Propaganda 4 November 1936 17 May 1937 Carlos Esplá Rizo IR
Without portfolio 4 September 1936 15 May 1937 José Giral Pereira IR
Without portfolio 4 September 1936 15 May 1937 Manuel Irujo y Ollo PNV
Without portfolio 4 November 1936 17 May 1936 Jaime Ayguadé Miró ERC

Exile, death, and legacy[edit]

Upon the defeat of the Republic in 1939, he fled to France. Arrested during the German occupation of France, he spent most of World War II imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg concentration camp, until the liberation of the camps at the end of the war.[16]

He died in exile in Paris in 1946;[1] his remains were returned to Madrid in 1978 after Franco's death in 1975.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Thomas 2003, p. 39.
  2. ^ Beevor 2006, p. 17.
  3. ^ Beevor 2006, p. 21.
  4. ^ Preston, Paul. The Coming of the Spanish Civil War: Reform, Reaction and Revolution in the Spanish Second Republic. Routledge. New York. 1994. p. 81.
  5. ^ Beevor 2006, p. 28.
  6. ^ Beevor 2006, pp. 29–32.
  7. ^ Jackson 1967, pp. 206–208.
  8. ^ "Francisco Largo Caballero : Biography". Archived from the original on 19 January 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  9. ^ Preston 2006, p. 84.
  10. ^ Thomas 2003, p. 392–394.
  11. ^ Jackson 1967, pp. 341.
  12. ^ Paz 2011, p. 96-97.
  13. ^ Preston 2006, pp. 256–258.
  14. ^ Graham 2005, p. 162.
  15. ^ Urquijo y Goitia 2008, p. 129–130.
  16. ^ Beevor 2006, p. 413.


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Labour and Social Security
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Spain
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of War
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by President of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Socialist Group in the Congress of Deputies
Succeeded by
Trade union offices
Preceded by
Vicente Barrio
Secretary General of the UGT
Succeeded by
José Rodríguez Vega