It was exactly 100 years ago today that Nicolás Salmerón Y Alonso, Almerias most famous son (as people as saying today) died in Pau, France.
Born 10th of April 1838 in Almeria, to Francisco Salmeron Lopez, the town doctor and an noted free thinker of the age, and Rosalia Alonso Garcia, who later died in childbirth, he lived in Almeria until 1848 when he went to Granada to study Law & Philosophy and Arts. In 1859 he was appointed to the post of under Professor of Philosophy in San Isidrio Institute in Madrid; in 1864 he gained his doctorate and was appointed Professor of Universal History in Oviedo University. Several other influential teaching posts followed.
From a young age he showed interest in civil rights and personal freedoms, which led him to join at the young Partido Democratico and to publish several influential pamphlets on the rights of the individual and the running of a free society, and even spent 5 months in jail for distributing these pamphlets in 1867, under Queen Isabel II.
After the 1868 Revolution, he moved back to Madrid and was reinvolved in the political process. In the 1869 elections he stood as the parlimentary candidate for Almeria but was beaten. In 1867 he succeeded in being voted in – as the candidate for Badajoz. A staunch republican, he was the leading proponent of the Unitarian model of Spanish democracy, as opposed to the Federal model being mooted by the rest of the party. His independence on the subect led to him being one of the authors of the 1896 Constitution of the First International on the rights of the workers to congregate freely. With the arrival of the 1st Spanish Republic, he was first Minister of Mercy and Justice under Estanislao Figueras, and on the 13th of June was elected President of the Chambers of Government.
After the resignation of Pi i Margall, he was voted in as President of the Republic on the 18th of July 1873. After loosing a vote in parliment on the abolition of the death penalty in Spain, he resigned from this position the 7th of September of that year to avoid having to sign a death warrent, taking up his old position. His surprise resignation lead to conflict in the government, and some have said that it was this together with his failure to control the Catalan seperatists that allowed General Pavia to carry out a military coup d’etat in 1874, overthrowing the government and ending the First Republic.
After being forced into exile for a few years, he continued dabbling in politics, founded a newspaper, worked for the rights of the workers as an influential lawyer and generally became a senior respected statesman.
He is always remembered for being an honest politician – the first in Spain to resign for moral reasons and to have the courage of his convictions. A small statue of him can been seen at the top of the Nicolas Salmeron avenue in Almeria, striding down towards the sea.