Pi y Margall, Francisco

Pi y Margall, Francisco

(fränthēs`kō pē ē märgäl`), 1824–1901, Spanish statesman and writer. A liberal journalist, he fled to France after the unsuccessful uprising of 1866 against Gen. Leopoldo O'Donnell. After the overthrow of Isabella II in 1868 he was elected (1869) to the Cortes. He was briefly president (1873) of the short-lived first Spanish republic, and he continued as deputy in the Cortes after the restoration of the monarchy (1875). He defended the principle of federalism against centralism, thus gaining wide popularity in Catalonia and also among the anarchists. He also favored autonomy for Cuba. His uprightness and intelligence won him the respect even of the hostile right.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pí y Margall, Francisco

 

Born Apr. 29, 1824, in Barcelona; died Nov. 29, 1901, in Madrid. Spanish political figure; revolutionary democrat.

The son of a petty merchant, Pí y Margall was educated as a lawyer. In 1851 he published A History of Spanish Painting, which was banned by the church and anathematized. That same year he published Studies on the Middle Ages, for which he was excommunicated. At the beginning of the 1850’s, Pí y Margall joined the republicans and became one of the leaders of the Democratic Party. He took an active part in the Revolution of 1854–56. In 1866 he emigrated to France, where he became acquainted with the works of P. J. Proudhon. He subsequently translated Proudhon into Spanish.

Pí y Margall returned to Spain in 1869, after the Spanish Revolution of 1868–74 had begun and the election of deputies to the Constituent Cortes had taken place. In February 1873 he was appointed minister of internal affairs of the republican government, and in June he was elected president of the republic. Because he did not wish to resort to force to suppress antigovern-ment uprisings, Pí y Margall resigned on July 18, 1873. After the fall of the republic and the restoration of the monarchy in 1874, he was elected a deputy to the Cortes several times.

In his works, Pí y Margall argued as a convinced advocate of democratic revolution. However, he did not see the class nature of the revolution that he was anticipating, asserting that its immediate goal was the creation of political conditions for the gradual emancipation of the working classes. He considered the revolution’s most important task to be the elimination of hired labor and the rent system in agriculture and the transfer of land to those who worked it. While he supported the idea of creating cooperative assocations and a direct exchange of goods by means of a people’s bank, Pí y Margall still allowed the retention of private property. He supposed that even with private ownership of the means of production, such democratic institutions as universal elections and freedom of association would ensure the elimination of exploitation and the transformation of the state into an agent of the common people’s interests. Pí y Margall considered a federal republic the ideal form of such a state. Despite the Utopian character of Pí y Margall’s social and political views, his program of democratic reforms reflected the genuine problems that were then confronting Spanish society.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.