Francia, José Gaspar Rodríguez [key], 1766–1840, dictator of Paraguay and creator of its national independence, known as El Supremo. Incorruptible and of superior cultural attainments for his epoch, he took part in the bloodless revolution against Spain (1811), was first consul, declared himself dictator in 1814, and ruled until his death. He limited the power of the church and kept the aristocracy in subjection. He was harsh with his enemies and intransigent with foreigners. Cutting off Paraguay from the rest of the world and limiting trade to his personal supervision, he gained international ill will but effectively stimulated the growth of local industry and agriculture.
See contemporary study by J. R. Rengger and M. F. X. Longchamp (tr. 1827, repr. 1971); J. P. and W. P. R. Robertson, Letters from Paraguay (3 vol., 1839, repr. 1970).
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