Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia was one of Paraguay’s first presidents when the country gained independence, serving as the country’s supreme dictator for 26 years. He ruled from 1814 until his death in 1840, and during that time he succeeded in constructing a powerful, safe, and independent nation on his own, at a time when Paraguay’s continuing survival as a separate country seemed bleak. He was born to an artillery officer, was educated in theology, and after several years as a professor, he became a lawyer to help the less fortunate, eventually entering politics. He was elected to the cabildo (Paraguayan administrative council) and afterwards to the National Junta, which overthrew Spanish authority in 1811. He was elected as the country’s sole leader two years later, and in 1816, he was named Paraguay’s supreme dictator for life. He was a capable and trustworthy ruler, yet he was quite cruel. Despite his flaws, he was extremely popular among the lower classes, and he outlawed all foreign trade in order to maintain his country independent. Despite his flaws, he was one of the most important figures in Paraguayan history and is remembered for his significant contribution to the country’s progress.
Childhood and Adolescence
Garca Rodrguez de Francia, an army commander turned tobacco planter, and his wife, Mara Josefa de Velasco, gave birth to Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia on January 6, 1766, in Yaguarón, Paraguay.
He acquired his early education at the San Francisco Monastery School in Asunción. He graduated from the University of Córdoba with a doctorate in theology and a post-graduate degree in philosophy in April 1785.
He lectured in the Royal College and Seminary of San Carlos after that, but left teaching in 1792 to study law.
Later in life, he worked as a lawyer and was fluent in five languages, including Spanish, French, and English. He despised the “class system” created by Spain in Paraguay, and as a lawyer, he constantly strove to help and defend the less privileged citizens against the wealthy.
A Career of José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia
He was elected to the cabildo, or administrative council, in 1807. He was appointed as the fiscal officer the next year, and by August 1809, he had been promoted to the position of head of the Asunción cabildo.
Paraguay’s independence was declared on May 15, 1811, and he was appointed secretary to the national junta at a Congress convening two months later, on June 17, 1811. But, after only a few months on the job, he resigned in August 1811 due to the army’s domination over Congress.
He returned to his office in October 1811 on the condition that Juan Bogarin, one of the five junta members, be removed. He resigned in December 1811 after serving for two months.
He returned to the National Junta in November 1812 and was appointed Foreign Secretary, a position he held until October 1813.
Along with Fulgencio Yegros, he was named as an alternative Consul of the Republic for a year on October 1, 1813.
In March 1814, he forbade Spaniards from marrying each other, stating that if they wished to marry, they must marry Indians, blacks, or mulattoes.
Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia was named sole consul by Congress in October 1814, with absolute powers for three years. He cemented his influence to the point where, in June 1816, he was granted lifetime control of the country.
He was known as ‘El Supremo’ for the next 24 years as Paraguay’s Supreme and Perpetual Dictator. He imposed a brutal isolation on Paraguay, obliterating all foreign trade while simultaneously promoting domestic businesses. He gained a reputation as a caudillo who ruled by merciless repression and random terror.
Major Projects of José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia
Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, also known as ‘El Supremo,’ made substantial contributions to Paraguay’s prosperity. He placed a strong emphasis on national industry in order to make the country self-sufficient.
He also introduced modern farming and livestock-raising methods, as well as playing a vital part in the organization of the country’s armed forces.
Personal History and Legacy
Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia kept a ledger in which he recorded the names of all the women with whom he had slept. He became the father of seven illegitimate children despite having no meaningful relationships with any of these women.
He was a worrier, and he took many measures to protect himself against assassination. He slept with a revolver under his pillow and secured the castle doors himself. When he went on a ride, he made sure that all the bushes and trees along the route were uprooted so that assassins wouldn’t be able to hide. As he passed, he also ordered that all shutters be shuttered and that pedestrians prostrate before him.
Later in life, he burned all of his paperwork and refused to accept medical help when he realized he was dying. Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia died in Asunción, Paraguay, on September 20, 1840. A state funeral was held for him, with the priest eulogizing him.
Estimated Net worth
José is one of the wealthiest World Leaders and one of the most popular. José Gaspar Rodrguez de Francia has a net worth of $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.