José Modesto Espinosa y Espinosa de los Monteros (Quito, December 2, 1833 – December 21, 1915) was an Ecuadorian writer, polemicist, poet, and politician. In 1875 he was a founding member of the Ecuadorian Academy of Language and its first secretary. He held important posts during the rule of General José María Urbina. He was also State Councilor and Senator for the Tungurahua province. Since 1878, he was persecuted for his articles criticizing the government of General Ignacio de Veintemilla. After the Veintemilla distatorship was overthrown in 1883, he spoke at the University of Quito’s formal reinstatement on February 18, 1883, in his role as the Minister of the Interior and Foreign Affairs of the Pentavirate Provisional Government. He served in this capacity until 1887, during the Progressive era in Ecuador’s history. In 1888 he held the position of Minister of Government once more and was appointed Member of the Academy of Fine Arts of Seville (Spain) and two years later, Member of the Quito Athenaeum and Minister of the Supreme Court of Justice. In 1894 he was elected President of the Supreme Court of Justice, a position he held until the Liberal Revolution of June 5, 1895. The next year, the Revolution’s Leader, General Eloy Alfaro, accused him of being a right-wing conspirator and gave him eight days to leave the country. He returned to Quito in 1901 and in 1902 he was elected Senator for the Pichincha province.
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)