Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

Uruguay’s José Batlle y Ordoñez: The Determined Visionary, 1915-1917

Milton I. Vanger
Uruguay’s José Batlle y Ordoñez: The Determined Visionary, 1915-1917
ISBN: 978-1-58826-694-1
ISBN: 978-1-62637-144-6
2009/295 pages/LC: 2009026975
"Conclusively demonstrates Batlle's idealism and political acumen and the nuanced shifts in Uruguayan politics. Students of Uruguayan history must not overlook this title."—James C. Knarr, Hispanic American Historical Review

"[A] magisterial political biography.... Vanger combines a finely drawn analysis of early-20th-century Uruguayan society, culture, economics, party politics, and foreign policy with a nuanced political portrait of Batlle during his postpresidential years.... Highly recommended." —Choice

"The masterful culmination of a lifetime’s labor.... This is one of the most balanced and thorough studies of any Latin American president’s political career written in any language."—John Chasteen, University of North Carolina


If one died and could not reach heaven, went the saying in Latin America during the presidency of José Batlle y Ordoñez, one might get at least as far as Batlle’s Uruguay. José Batlle was committed to a vision of advanced democracy that included a plural executive (the Colegiado), state-run enterprises, an eight-hour-maximum workday, women’s rights, and the abolition of the death penalty. In 1915-1917, having completed his second term in office, he was battling on toward a revision of the Uruguayan constitution that he believed would embody that vision.

Batlle’s ideas proved to be too much for voters to accept. Nevertheless, he skillfully rescued part of his program and laid the groundwork for future reforms. As masterfully related in this concluding volume of Milton Vanger’s trilogy, the story of Batlle and this short episode in Uruguay’s history is significant far beyond its time. Even today, Batlle's legacy looms over current politics in the country much as FDR and the New Deal Coalition do in the United States. Arguably, no other single topic is more important in Uruguay’s political history.


The late Milton I. Vanger, was professor emeritus of history at Brandeis University. The preeminent scholar of José Batlle y Ordoñez, he authored José Batlle y Ordoñez of Uruguay: The Creator of His Times, 1902-1907 and The Model Country: José Batlle y Ordoñez of Uruguay, 1907-1915.


  • Introduction.
  • Viera’s Inauguration.
  • Piedras Blancas.
  • Constitutional Reform.
  • Batlle’s Reforms.
  • The Eight-hour Day.
  • Education.
  • Rancher Opposition.
  • Old-age Pensions.
  • Catholicism in Our Times.
  • Campaigning.
  • Enforcing the Eight-hour Day.
  • Explaining the Colegiado.
  • Opposing the Colegiado.
  • The Right to Food.
  • Vote Colegialist or Stay Home?
  • Election Eve.
  • The Defeat of the Colegiado.
  • Viera’s Halt.
  • Batlle’s Burial.
  • The Grand Solution.
  • A New Cabinet.
  • The Election of 14 January 1917.
  • Batlle Resurrected.
  • The Committee of Eight and the New Constitution.
  • Where Will the New Constitution Take Us?
  • Uruguay Wins Diplomatically.
  • Viera Ends the Halt.
  • Batlle’s "My Conduct in the Reform."
  • Epilogue.