The illegitimate son of Pedro José Chamorro, Fruto Pérez was born in Guatemala City (1804) and educated at the Universidad de San Carlos. In 1827 he arrived in Nicaragua for the first time; before long he assumed his father’s name and proved himself to be an able administrator of the family estates. To protect the interests of Granada’s old families, he reluctantly entered polities and served with distinction in both liberal and conservative governments. Representing his adopted state at the Chinandega Conference of 1842, he subsequently held the post of Supreme Delegate in the short-lived Confederation of Central America. After having won the 1853 elections for the directorship, he became Nicaragua’s first president under the new constitution of 1854, marking the commencement of a disastrous three-year civil war. Following the heroic defense of Granada, his health deteriorated; and death overpowered him in 1855.
Fruto Chamorro emerges from this biography, which draws heavily from the family archives, as an enlightened conservative, the advocate of civilian rule, a defender of Spanish traditionalism, and a determined supporter of orderly and efficient government—one controlled by the elite and devoted to the prevention rather than to the remedy of evils. Because of these ideas, his liberal enemies pictured him as Don Fruto the tyrant, while conservatives regarded him as the champion of law and order. Judging from the reforms he urged to the Pacto de Chinandega, he also favored effective unionism for Central America in order to command respect from foreign powers. Later, convinced that Central Americans were against restoring a general government, he led the states’ rights movement in Nicaragua.
Despite its conservative bias, this is a praiseworthy attempt to untangle the confused history of the fifteen years which followed the dissolution of the Central American Republic, especially valuable for the study of the unionist movement. Surprisingly, however, there is little mention of the Representación Nacional of 1851, basic for understanding the subsequent civil war in Nicaragua. Published posthumously, this study resembles the author’s Historia de la federación de Centro América (Madrid, 1951), in its blind defense of the conservative cause. It is nonetheless a significant contribution to the field.