The United Provinces of Central America
From its 1823 inception, the new federation (the United
Provinces of Central America) faced a series of ultimately
unresolvable problems. Instead of engendering a spirit of
Spanish rule had fostered divisions and local suspicions.
case of Honduras, this divisiveness was epitomized by the
between Tegucigalpa and Comayagua. There was even some
for admitting these two cities as separate provinces
federation, but that proposal was ultimately rejected. In
much of the region was suspicious of Guatemalan ambitions
dominate Central America and wished to retain all possible
authority rather than surrender any to a central
At least equally serious was the division of the
active population into conservative and liberal factions.
conservatives favored a more centralized government; a
policy, including a church monopoly over education; and a
aristocratic form of government based on traditional
values. The liberals wanted greater local autonomy and a
restricted role for the church, as well as political and
development as in the United States and parts of Western
The conservatives favored keeping native people in their
traditional, subservient position, while the liberals
eventually eliminating indigenous society by incorporating
the national, Hispanic culture.
At the time of Central American independence (1823),
was among the least-developed and least-populated
1824 its population was estimated at just over 137,000.
meager population, Honduras produced two of the most
leaders of the federation, the liberal Francisco Morazán
the "George Washington of Central America") and the
José Cecilio del Valle. In 1823 del Valle was narrowly
liberal Manuel José Arce for election as the federation's
president. Morazán overthrew Arce in 1829 and was elected
of the federation in 1830, defeating del Valle.
The beginning of Morazán's administration in 1830 saw
efforts to reform and promote education. Success was
however, because of lack of funds and internal fighting.
elections of 1834, del Valle defeated Morazán, but del
before taking office, and the legislature offered Morazán
presidency. With clerical support, a conservative uprising
Guatemala in 1837, and within a year the federation had
dissolve. On May 30, 1838, the Central American Congress
Morazán from office, declared that the individual states
establish their own governments, and on July 7 recognized
"sovereign, free, and independent political bodies."
Data as of December 1993