First Spanish Republic

First Spanish Republic

Infobox Former Country
native_name = "República Española"
conventional_long_name = Spanish Republic
common_name = Spain
continent = Europe
country = Spain
era =
government_type = Republic|
event_start = Abdication of Amadeo I
year_start = 1873
date_start = 11 February 1873
event_end = Proclamation of Alfonso XII
year_end = 1874
date_end = 29 December 1874

p1 = Mid-nineteenth century Spain
flag_p1 = Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg
s1 = Spain under the Restoration
flag_s1 = Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg|

image_map_caption =
capital = Madrid
national_motto =
national_anthem =
common_languages = Spanish
religion = Roman Catholic Church
currency = Spanish peseta|
leader1 = Estanislao Figueras
year_leader1 = 1873
leader2 = Francisco Pi y Margall
year_leader2 = 1873
leader3 = Nicolás Salmerón y Alfonso
year_leader3 = 1873
leader4 = Emilio Castelar y Ripoll
year_leader4 = 1873-1874
leader5 = Francisco Serrano y Domínguez
year_leader5 = 1874
title_leader = President
legislature = Congress of Deputies |

stat_year1 =
stat_area1 =
stat_pop1 =
footnotes =
History of Spain

The First Spanish Republic started with the abdication as King of Spain on February 10 1873, of Amadeo I, following the Hidalgo Affair, when he had been required by the radical government to sign a decree against the artillery officers. The next day, February 11, the republic was declared by a parliamentary majority made up of radicals, republicans and democrats. It lasted twenty-three months, between February 11 1873, and December 29 1874, and had five presidents: Estanislao Figueras, Pi i Margall, Nicolás Salmerón, Emilio Castelar and Francisco Serrano.

The Republican leaders planned the establishment of a federal republic, but did not declare it immediately, and instead planned a Constituent Cortes to write a federal constitution. The radicals preferred a unitary republic, and once the republic had been declared the two parties turned against each other; initially the radicals were largely driven from power, joining those who had already been driven out by the revolution of 1868 or by the Carlist War.

Subversion in the army, a series of local cantonalist risings, instability in Barcelona, failed anti-federalist coups, calls for revolution by the International Workingmen's Association, the lack of any broad political legitimacy, and personal in-fighting among the republican leadership all weakened the republic.

The Republic effectively ended on January 3 1874, when the Captain General of Madrid, Manuel Pavía, pronounced against the federalist government and called on all parties except Federalists and Carlists to form a national government. The monarchists and Republicans refused, leaving the unitary Radicals and Constitutionalists as the only group willing to govern; again a narrow political base. General Francisco Serrano formed a new government and was appointed President of the Republic although it was a mere formality since the Cortes had been dissolved.

Carlist forces managed to expand the territory under their control to the greatest extent in early 1874, though a series of defeats by the republic's northern army in the second half of the year might have led to the end of the war had it not been for bad weather. However the other monarchists had taken the name of "Alfonsists" as supporters of Alfonso, the son of the former Queen Isabel, and were organised by Cánovas del Castillo.

This period of the Republic lasted until Brigadier Martínez Campos pronounced for Alfonso in Sagunto on 29 December 1874, and the rest of the army refused to act against him. The government collapsed, leading to the end of the republic and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy with the proclamation of Alfonso XII as king.

Proclamation of the Republic

King Amadeo I abdicated from the Spanish throne on February 11, 1873. His decision was mainly due to the constant difficulties he had to face during his short tenure, as the Ten Years War, the outbreak of the Third Carlist War, the opposition from "alfonsino" monarchists, which hoped for the Bourbon Restoration in the person of Alfonso, son of Isabella II, the many republican insurrections and the division among his own supporters.

The Spanish Cortes, which were assembled in a joint and permanent session of both the Congress of Deputies and the Senate, declared themselves the National Assembly while waiting for any final notice from the King. The overwhelming majority was with the monarchists from the two dinastic parties that had exercised the government until then: the Radical Party of Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla and the Constitutional Party of Práxedes Mateo Sagasta. There also was a small republican minority in the National Assembly, ideologically divided between federalism and centralism. One of them, federalist parliamentarian Francisco Pi y Margall moved the following proposal:

In his speech for the proposal, Pi y Margall, himself a federalist, renounced for the moment to establish a federal republic, hoping the would-be-assembled Constituent Cortes to decide over the issue, and announced his acceptance of any other democratic decision. Then another republican, Emilio Castelar took the floor and said:

After the powerful speech, a modified motion was passed with 258 votes in favour and only 32 against, declaring the Republic:

In the same session, the first government of the Republic was elected. Federal republican Estanislao Figueras became the first "President of the Executive Power", an office incorporating the heads of State and Government. No "President of the Republic" was ever elected, as the Constitution creating such office was never enacted. The passage of these resolutions surprised and stunned most Spaniards, as the recently-elected Cortes (now National Assembly) had a wide majority of monarchists. Ruiz Zorrilla spoke in these terms:

For most monarchists, though, the impossibility of restoring Isabella II as Queen, and the youth of the future Alfonso XII made the Republic the only, though transitory, viable course of action, particularly given the inevitable failure that awaited it.

Figueras Government

The first Government of the Republic was integrated by federalists and progressives, which had already been in power during the monarchy, and in particular four ministers had served with king Amadeo: Echegaray (Finance), Becerra (War), Fernández de Córdoba (Navy) and Berenguer (Infrastructures).

Their beginnings were plagued by a terrible economic situation, with a 546M peseta budgetary deficit, 153M in debts requiring immediate payment and only 32M available to fulfill them. The Artillery Corps had been dissolved in the most virulent moment of the Carlist and Cuban wars, for which there were not enough soldiers, equipments nor money to purchase them. Besides, Spain was going through a deep economic crisis matching the Panic of 1873 and which was exacerbated by the political instability. In previous years, unemployment had risen steeply amongst field and industrial workers, and proletarian organizations countered with strikes, demonstrations, protest rallies and the occupation of abandoned lands.

On February 23, the just-elected Speaker of the National Assembly, radical Cristino Marcos, plotted a failed coup d'etat in which the Civil Guard occupied the Ministry of Governation and the National Militia surrounded the Congress of Deputies, in order to establish an unitary republic. This prompted the first remodelation of the government in which the progressives were ousted and replaced with federalists. Twelve days after the establishment of the Republic, compulsory military service was removed and voluntary service set up with a daily salary of 1 peseta. A "Republican volunteers" corps was also established with a similar retribution.

The second Figueras government had to face the attempt of proclamation of the Estat Catalá inside the Spanish Federal Republic on March 9, which was overcome by a series of telegraphic contacts between the government and the Catalan leaders. On April 23, a new attempt of coup was set in motion; this time by a collusion of "alfonsino" monarchists, members of the old Liberal Union and monarchic sectors of the Army; but failed when several units refrained from supporting it.

Francisco Pi y Margall is usually considered the heart of the government, which had to face several problems already endemic to the Republic, as the Third Carlist War, separatist insurrections (this time from Catalonia), military indiscipline, monarchic plots, etc. The Government dissolved the National Assembly and summoned Constituent Cortes for May 1. On April 23, Cristino Martos, Speaker of the old National Assembly, attempted a new coup, now supported by the Civil Governor of Madrid: a platoon of militians took positions along the Paseo del Prado, and four thousand armed "voluntaries" more gathered near the Independence Square under the pretext of "pasar revista". Having heard from the plot, Pi i Margall mobilized the Civil Guard, while the Minister for War appointed a new Captain General for Madrid and ordered him to march on the militians. The coup failed as soon as it started, and the Government dissolved the military units participating and the Permanent Committee of the Assembly.

The writs were issued for Constituent Cortes elections on May 10. The elections themselved developed in a quite unorthodox environment, and the resulting representativity was ridiculous, as most factions in Spain did not participate: the carlists were still waging war against the Republic, while the "alfonsino" monarchists of Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, the unitary republicans and even the incipient workers' organization close to the First International all called for abstention. The result was clearly favourable to the federal republicans, which captured 343 of the 371 seats, but turnout was probably the lowest in Spanish history, with about 28% in Catalonia and 25% in Madrid.

The Federal Republic

On June 1, 1873 the first session of the Constituent Cortes was opened, so the motion of proposals begun. The first one to be passed was moved on June 7, and read:The resolution was passed the next day, June 8, by a vote of 219-2, and the Federal Republic was thus declared. Most of the federalists in parliament supported a Swiss-like confederative model, with regions directly forming independent cantons. Famous Spanish writer Benito Pérez Galdós, aged 21 at the time, wrote about the Cortes in this terms:The situation reached such levels of surrealism that, while presiding over a Cabinet session, Estanislao Figueras yelled: «"Gentlemen, I can't stand this any more. I am going to be frank to you: I'm fed up of all of us!"» [«"Señores, ya no aguanto más. Voy a serles franco: ¡estoy hasta los cojones de todos nosotros!"» in Spanish, or, in the allegedly original Catalan, «"Senyors, ja no aguanto més. Vaig a ser-los franc: estic fins als collons de tots nosaltres!"»] . So fed up that on June 10 he left his resignation letter in his office, went for a walk through the Parque del Buen Retiro and, without telling anyone, boarded the first train departing from the Atocha Station. He would only step down upon arrival to Paris.

Pi i Margall Government

quote box2|quote=The federal republic for Pi i Margall

"The procedure — there's no reason to hide it — was openly the reverse of the past: the result could be the same. The provinces had to be represented in the new Cortes, and if they had any concrete idea on the limits over the powers of the future States, they could take it to the Cortes and defend it there. As the delimitation of the powers of the provinces would have also determined that of the State, the delimitation of the Central Power would determine that of the provinces. One way or another could have, without any doubt, produced the same Constitution and it would not have been, in my opinion, neither patriotic nor political, to ensnare the proclamation of the Republic due to intransigence over this point."

"Even though the "bottom to top" procedure was more logical and proper of a Federation, the other, "top to bottom" was more likely for an already-formed nation like ours, and less dangerous in its implementation. There would be no cessation of continuity in Power; the life of the nation would not be suspended for a single moment; there would be no fear of deep conflicts arising between the provinces; it would be the easiest, fastest, safest way and the less exposed to contrariety..."
source=Francisco Pi i Margall|width=30em|halign=left|salign=right|bgcolor=#c6dbf7
After Figueras' flight to France, the power vacuum created was tempting general Manuel Sodas into starting a pronunciamiento when a Civil Guard colonel, José de la Iglesia, showed up at Congress and declared that nobody would leave until a new President was elected. Figueras' fellow federalist and government minister Francisco Pi y Margall was elected, but on his speech to the Assembly he declared he was at a complete loss and without a program. The main efforts of the new government focused on the drafting of the new Constitution and some social-related bills:
* Apportionment of disamortized lands among lessees, settlers and "aparceros" [People who obtained free use of a land for a percentage of the profits. It was used by many landowners as an alternative to direct exploitation or rental.] .
* Reestablishment of the regular Army, with mandatory conscription.
* Separation of Church and State, which had been deeply intertwined under Ferdinand VII and only slightly separated by Isabella II.
* Abolition of slavery throughout the nation. Though the 1812 Cádiz Constitution had already took some steps on the issue, the colonies remained opposed to the move from mainland Spain. Also, plans were made to limit child labor.
* Establishment of a system ensuring free and compulsory education.
* Legalization of the right of syndication, creation of mixed workers-managers juries and establishment of the 8 hours work day.On June 16 a 25-member Committee was set up by the Cortes to study the draft Constitution of the Federal Republic of Spain, the redaction of which is mainly attributed to Emilio Castelar, with debate starting the following day. On June 28, Pi i Margall renewed the composition of his Government, but due to the slow pace of the constitutional debates in the Cortes, events came crashing down on the government at a stunning pace. On June 30, the City Council of Seville passed a motion declaring the town a Social Republic, and the next day many federalist deputies left the Cortes in protest. About a week later, on July 9, Alcoy followed suit, in the midst of a wave of murders sparked by a revolutionary strike directed by local leaders of the First International. It was just the beginning: shortly after, the "cantonal revolution" swept across Spain with strikes, murders of officers by soldiers, lynching of city mayors and over a hundred of deaths.

See also

*Second Spanish Republic

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