In his biographical sketch of General Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera, León Helguera states correctly that four leaders—Bolívar, Santander, Mosquera, and Núñez—were influential in the shaping of national development in nineteenth-century Colombia. Helguera also notes that aside from literary endeavors and brief character studies by Rafael Núñez, Raimundo Rivas, Antonio García, Joaquín Tamayo, and Joaquín Estrada Monsalve, no major documented study of Mosquera has been written. It is significant therefore that Helguera and Robert H. Davis have dedicated themselves to editing the Mosquera Archive.
The work reviewed here is the first of a projected twelve-volume collection of Mosquera’s correspondence with Colombian political figures. Having completed this volume of Mosquera’s correspondence with General Ramón Espina, the editors plan to publish correspondence with Lino de Pombo, Manuel Murillo Toro, Mariano Ospina Rodríguez, Pedro Alcántara Herrán, and José Antonio Páez, to mention only a few. The significance of the task becomes apparent when we consider that they will make available to students of Colombian history documents which cover a period from 1820 to 1878.
For this volume of correspondence with General Espina, Helguera has written an excellent analysis of Mosquera’s personality along with an essay on his friendship with Espina. Also helpful to the investigator is a description of the Mosquera Archive in the Archivo Central de Cauca in Popayán. Viewing the forces which shaped Mosquera’s personality, Helguera concludes that he suffered from an inferiority complex for not having had the opportunity to participate directly in the Patria Boba. He was also overshadowed in his early life by his father and an older brother. After years of studying the Gran General, Helguera finds it impossible to distinguish between his personality and his official actions. What other writers have seen as contradictory in Mosquera’s behavior, Helguera finds logically consistent.
Davis makes a great contribution in bringing to the reader a biographical study of the little-known but important military and political figure, General Ramón Espina. Both Helguera and Davis point out the influence of the Mosquera-Espina friendship. Davis shows, however, that Espina was apolitical and professional in his military conduct, while Mosquera adhered to a personalistic philosophy. Davis concludes that Espina was a precursor of the more professionalized militarist which has appeared in twentieth-century Latin America.
The correspondence between Mosquera and Espina has been edited with extensive notations which will prove invaluable to researchers. Such documentation points up the enthusiasm and dedication with which the two editors have undertaken their important contribution to Colombian historical study.