José de la Riva Agüero

José Mariano de la Cruz de la Riva Agüero y Sánchez Boquete Marquess De Montealegre de Aulestia (3 May 1783 – 21 May 1858) was a soldier, politician, and historian who served as the 1st President of Peru and 2nd President of North Peru. He was the first Head of State who had the title of President of the Republic.

José de la Riva Agüero
1st President of Peru
In office
  • 28 February – 23 June 1823 (1823-02-28 1823-06-23);
  • 3 months and 26 days
Succeeded byJosé Bernardo de Tagle
2nd President of North Peru
In office
  • 1 August 1838 – 24 January 1839 (1838-08-01 1839-01-24);
  • 5 months and 23 days
Preceded byLuis José de Orbegoso
Personal details
Born(1783-05-03)3 May 1783
Lima, Peru
Died21 May 1858(1858-05-21) (aged 75)
Lima, Peru

He wanted to finish the Peruvian independence process only by Peruvians' own efforts organized by the Segunda Campaña de Intermedios, but failed. His disagreements with Congress and Bolivar's Arrival determined en end of his mandate and his deportation, first to Guayaquil and then to Europe, where he lived until he came back to America in 1828. He went first to Chile and then returned to Peru in 1833 and was elected deputy to a Convention that reincorporated him in the army with the title of Grand Marshal.

Supporter of President Luis José de Orbegoso, he was plenipotentiary minister in Chile and President of the Nor Peruvian State in the Peru-Bolivian Confederation. After the end of that political entity, he went again to Ecuador in 1843.

Early life and political career

Riva Agüero was son of José De la Riva Agüero y Basso della Rovere, a Spanish aristocrat of Italian origin, member of the Della Rovere family, and the criolla María Josefa Sánchez Boquete Román de Aulestia Marquess De Montealegre de Aulestia, and married the Belgian princess Caroline Arnoldine de Looz -Corswarem. He inherited from his mother's family the title of Marquess of Montealegre de Aulestia and was baptized in the parish of San Marcelo of Lima in 1784.

He spent his childhood and youth in Spain, where he was educated and later participated in the wars against the Napoleonic invasion. He moved to France for a time and then, when he was back in Madrid, was awarded with La Orden of Carlos III (1807). Moved by the nationalist ardor caused by the Napoleonic invasion in 1808, he enlisted in the Spanish army and participated in some early actions against the French in Guipúzcoa, Burgos and Córdoba.

During his brief military experience, he was awarded and recognized by the Spanish Royal Crown because of the courage showed in a campaign where he saved the lives of 10 comrades after the mission's General was shot to death. In 1809, he returned to Lima and participated in the independence cause. José de San Martín named him prefect of Lima in 1822. Upon the departure of San Martín and the ensuing social instability in the country, Andrés de Santa Cruz revolted against the Peruvian Congress on February 26, 1823 and forced it to elect Riva Agüero as President. Riva Agüero proclaimed himself "President of Peru", the first to use such title.

During his short government, he suffered the entry of Spanish troops into the capital and the departure of the government towards a new installation at the port of Callao. Under this situation, Riva Agüero lost all support of the Peruvian Congress, which awaited anxiously the arrival of Simón Bolívar. He was later deposed by Antonio José de Sucre. Sucre was succeeded by José Bernardo de Torre Tagle until the arrival of Simón Bolívar. Congress had been waiting for the Venezuelan "Liberator" to come to Peru and help to consolidate the Independence of the country, and was more than willing to grant him all necessary powers.

Fearing the loss of leadership, Riva Agüero sought to conciliate with the Viceroy to prevent the arrival of Bolívar, only to be arrested and accused of high treason. He was subsequently exiled to Chile. There he wrote the Memorias y documentos para la Historia de la Independencia del Perú y causas del mal éxito que ha tenido ésta (Memories and documents for the history of the independence of Peru and causes for its failure so far), one of the most important sources for the period.

During the short-lived Peru-Bolivian Confederation Riva Agüero supported Mariscal Andrés de Santa Cruz, and became president of the Republic of North Peru in 1838. After its collapse, he retired from public life until his death in 1858.

He had five children with Caroline-Arnoldine de Looz-Corswarem. His eldest son was José de la Riva-Agüero y Looz-Corswarem.

Conspiracy in Lima

During his time in Spain, he joined an American lodge that worked for the independence of America. He came back to Peru after he was appointed as accountant and conservative judge in the area of luck and lotteries in the Tribunal Mayor de Cuentas de Lima (1810), returned to Peru, via Buenos Aires, decided to support the independence movement. During his trip, he avoided harassment from the authorities: he was briefly arrested in Montevideo but; in Buenos Aires, he had to flee furtively after realizing that they were going to return him to Spain. Something similar happened in the city of Mendoza.

Already established in Lima, he was associated with various groups of patriots and maintained active correspondence with those of Chile and Buenos Aires, which had already been installed Governing Boards. He ran Lima's Lodge from home, located at Santa Teresa (now fifth block of Jirón Puno) or the house of the Count of Vega del Ren, in the street of Botica San Pedro (now fourth block of Jirón Miró Quesada). He was involved in almost all Lima conspiracies, which were closely monitored by the authorities and eventually persecuted. However, the intervention of powerful friends and relatives saved him.

In 1816 he wrote a Manifestación histórica y política de la revolución de América, published anonymously in Buenos Aires in 1818 in which he exposed twenty causes justifying the insurgency against the colonial regime.

Contact with San Martín

Riva Agüero was then in intensive contacts with José de San Martín, who after securing the independence of Chile planned to go to Peru. He sent valuable data on the situation of the royalist forces and helped define the plan of operations of the Army of the Andes to attack the central coast of Peru to penetrate the Alto Peru. For all these reasons, the figure of Riva Agüero was instrumental in achieving the emancipation of Spanish America.

At that time, a messenger of San Martin was captured with correspondence that was addressed to Riva Agüero and other Lima patriots in April 1819. The Viceroy Joaquín de la Pezuela then ordered the confinement of Riva Agüero in Tarma (central highlands of Peru) while preparing a boat to take him to Spain, but the legal appeal and the disruption caused by the arrival of San Martin during his Freedom Expedition led such a severe measure to be abandoned.

Even in such conflict, Riva Agüero continued laboring for the cause of independence, convincing many officers to desert the royal troops. Indeed, he was one of those who influenced over Numancia Battalion's celebrated change to the patriot ranks. Similarly, he promoted the guerrilla organization to sever accesses in Lima. He also helped to produce the schism and disagreement among the Spanish generals themselves and help to infiltrate the royal army with double agents.

See also


    Further reading

    • Higgins, J., ed. (2014). The Emancipation of Peru: British Eyewitness Accounts.
    Political offices
    Preceded by
    José Bernardo de Tagle
    President of Peru
    Succeeded by
    Antonio José de Sucre
    Preceded by
    Luis José de Orbegoso
    President of North Peru
    Succeeded by
    Republic dissolved
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