José Modesto Espinosa y Espinosa de los Monteros (Quito, December 2, 1833 – December 21, 1915) was an Ecuadorian writer, politician, and founding member of the Ecuadorian Academy of Language. He held several important posts during General José María Urbina’s rule, including State Councilor and Senator for Tungurahua province. He was persecuted for his critical articles against General Ignacio de Veintemilla and served as Minister of the Interior and Foreign Affairs during the Progressive era of Ecuador’s history. He held other ministerial positions and was elected President of the Supreme Court of Justice in 1894. However, after being accused of being a right-wing conspirator by General Eloy Alfaro in 1896, he was exiled from Ecuador. He returned to Quito in 1901 and was elected Senator for the Pichincha province in 1902.
He was born in Quito on December 2, 1833. He was the last of nine children of the married couple, Dr. Manuel Espinosa Ponce, a lawyer, Ministro Fiscal de la Alta Corte y autor de un librito novelesco, inocuo y de piedad “Las noches de María Magdalena” fallecido en 1844 y de su prima hermana Petrona Espinosa Ortiz, naturales de Quito. Fue su padrino de bautizo Pedro Fermín Cevallos.
He graduated from the secondary school Colegio de San Fernando before enrolling at the Jurisprudence Faculty of the University of Quito, where he graduated on September 22, 1855, with a law degree.
Founding member of the Ecuadorian Academy of Language
The Ecuadorian Academy of Language (AEL), the second founded in the Americas, was established in Quito on October 15, 1874, although its legal recognition dates from May 4, 1875. The founding members were Pedro Fermín Cevallos, Julio Zaldumbide, Belisario Peña, Francisco Javier Salazar, Pablo Herrera and José Modesto Espinosa, who were previously corresponding members of the Royal Spanish Academy.
- Obras completas del Dr. Don José Modesto Espinosa, tomo primero: artículos de costumbres. Tipografía pontificia de B. Herder, Friburgo de Brisgovia (Alemania) 1899, 240 páginas. (Read it for free here)
- Obras completas del Dr. Don José Modesto Espinosa, tomo segundo: miscelánea. Tipografía pontificia de B. Herder, Friburgo de Brisgovia (Alemania) 1901, 332 páginas. (Read it for free here)