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The footprint of a Colombian intellectual

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Born in Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia, on 30 March 1830, he was baptized by the Catholic ritual as José María Torres Caicedo. The orphanhood in which he was left by the death of his parents, the mathematician Julián Torres y Peña and his wife Tadea Caicedo Villegas, assigned him poor things from which he managed to rise thanks to the protection of Monsignor Manuel José Mosquera, who tutored him until obtaining his doctorate in Civil Law (1853) in the College of San Bartolomé.

Active and violent in character, since the age of 17 he wrote literature, founded several newspapers in Colombia and mourned on several occasions, some of which he was wounded of some consideration. He moved to the French capital in 1864.

The Salvadoran poet and speaker Dr. Francisco Esteban Galindo (1850-1896) dedicated his drama in verse two flowers, that is, Rosa and Maria, published by the magazine El correo de Overseas (Paris, 1872) and reproduced by el pensamiento (San Salvador, 1896), a monthly dissemination organ of the scientific-literary society the new generation. The literary part of El correo de overseas (an important magazine of universal pretensions, with many metal engravings, published in Spanish in Paris, between 1842 and 1886), was directed by Torres Caicedo himself, hired by the general director and financier Xavier De Lasalle and Mélan.

From the 18th to the 22nd of July, 1875, he coordinated the First International Congress of Americanists (Nancy, France), while that of the 23 to the 27 of July of that same year did the same in the Congress of Literary Property (Vienna, Austria).

During a stay in the city of San Salvador, el doctor Torres Caicedo was one of the founders of the Academy of the Language of Centro-America, the germ of the first Academy in el Salvador of the Language, established on the 17th of November, 1875, and approved by the Royal Spanish Academy on the 19th of October, 1876.

On the same date, he was appointed Salvadoran diplomatic representative to France and the Holy See and honorary partner of the National University of El Salvador by the Higher Council of Public Instruction, as it was called from September 6, 1859 to now known as the higher University Council of the University of El Salvador.

Based in Paris as a diplomatic representative of almost all the nations of Central America, in 1878 he received the diploma that accredited him as an honorary member of the Literary Society El porvenir, based in Guatemala City. In collaboration with Joseph Laferrière, in the same year he wrote in French The Notebook historical and statistical news of the Republic of El Salvador. Universal Exhibition of 1878, written and printed in Paris.

Contributor in Spanish the pages parisians of The figaro, The flashlight and France, married in 1880 with Anna Seminar -who was visiting at the home of his parents-, companion with whom he established his home in the street of Fortuni, near the park of Monceaux, and with whom she had two children.

In 1884, he accompanied Salvadoran President Dr. Rafael Zaldívar during his European Tour, at whose Madrid stop he had the opportunity to attend with him and general and lawyer Dr. Luciano “Gato” Hernández, then Minister of Public Instruction, a session of the Royal Academy of the language, specially assembled to receive the Central American president. By that time, Torres Caicedo had already served as extraordinary envoy and Plenipotentiary Minister of El Salvador to the regimes of France, Belgium, Holland, England, Spain and Germany.

After several years of active service, one of whose successes was the effective management for the visit of French military and educators to El Salvador (1879-1885), the Salvadoran government of General Francisco Menéndez withdrew him to his diplomatic functions. I did not want to entrust relations with Europe to a man who had had such good relations with the previous government, deposed by the revolution led by the military and farmer ahuachapaneco.

Personal advisor to the French President Mariscal De MacMahon, he was decorated with the Grand Cross as Officer of the Legion of Honor and integrated the collegiate bodies of institutes and scientific-literary Academies of Turin, Paris, Rome, Madrid and various cities of Brazil.

Author of dozens of books, forewords, introductions, among other works, he published Flora and the floras (1859), Religion, homeland, and love (poems, 1863), biographical Essays and literary criticism on the major poets and writers hispanic-americans (three volumes, 1863), Of the penalty of death (1864), The principles of 1789 in America (1865), Union latino-americana, Studies on the English government and the anglo-saxon influence (2 vols., 1865), My ideas and principles, (1875), The authority and the freedom, the right and the duty (three volumes, s. f.), etc

His intense and tenacious vigils of academic work, coupled with an age-sensitive physical constitution, led him to the dark alleys of madness. He finished his days, on September 25, 1889, tied at the foot of a post, at the asylum for orates or asylum in Charenton, in Paris.

He was buried in the patrimonial Cemetery of Père Lachaise, one of the most visited in the world. The Salvadoran painter Mauricio Villacorta wrote an esquela for the daily La unión-directed in San Salvador by the poet Rubén Darío, which appeared in the edition of Saturday November 16 of that year.

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