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Francisco Morazán Quesada (October 16, 1792 - September 15, 1842) was President of Central America, who enacted idealistic liberal reforms, then unsuccessfully fought to maintain the unity of that nation as it fell apart into separate states in civil war.
Francisco Morazán was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, then part of the Spanish colony of New Spain. When New Spain became independent in 1821 he was among those objecting to Central America's annexation to Agustín de Iturbide's Mexican Empire, two years later he was a Honduran representative forming the new nation of the United States of Central America. On September 25, 1824 he was elected General Secretary of the Government of the State of Honduras.
In 1827 José Justo Milla led a conservative coup taking over the Honduran state government; Morazán proved himself a skillful military leader, defeating Milla's forces at the Battle of La Trinidad on November 11, 1827, south of Tegucigalpa. Answering the request of the government of El Salvador, Morazán also succeeded in quashing a revolt there, and he became famous throughout Central America.
In 1830 Morazán was elected President of Central America in a general election which brought the Liberal party to power in the republic. Morazán enacted many reforms, including freedom of speech, the press, and religion, equality of people of all classes before the law, and trial by jury. All of this was objected to by the Conservatives. The separation of Church and State, including allowing secular marriage and divorce and an end to government enforced tithing, made much of the clergy an enemy of Morazán and the Liberals.
In Guatemala Rafael Carrera, an illiterate but shrewd and charismatic swineherd turned highwayman, pledged a vendetta against Morazán and the Federal government after undisciplined Federal soldiers killed some of his relatives. Local conservative factions at first tried to use Carrera for their own ends, but by 1838 Carrera became de facto ruler of much of Guatemala. Morazán repeatedly chased Carrera's forces out of cities and towns, but Carrera's followers would retake places as soon as Morazán's army left.
The Carrera revolt inspired other Conservatives to revolt, and soon Central America was at civil war.
In 1839 Morazán's second term as President of Central America ended and the civil war in several regions prevented a general national election. However Morazán was elected president of El Salvador, and continued as acting interim Head of State of Central America -- which by then consisted only of El Salvador, Costa Rica, Los Altos (a state in what is now western Guatemala and eastern Chiapas) and a few scattered communities elsewhere.
In 1842 he disembarked in Costa Rica and joined forces with those opposed to local leader Braulio Carrillo , who had recently declared himself ruler for life. Morazán succeeded in ousting Carrillo and declared himself ruler of Costa Rica, which he intended to use as a base to reunite Central America. Costa Ricans quickly turned against him, however, and he was deposed and then executed in San José on the anniversary of Central American independence. His last words were "Posterity shall do us justice!"
Central American liberals still honor the memory of Francisco Morazán, who is also regarded as a national hero in Honduras.
Honduras' Francisco Morazán Department is named after him.
See also: History of Central America
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