Rafael Wenceslao Núñez Moledo was a Colombian author, lawyer, journalist and politician, who was elected President of Colombia in 1880 and in 1884. Rafael Núñez was born in Cartagena de Indias, on September 28, 1825. He died in Cartagena on September 18, 1894.
Little is known about the early years of Rafael Núñez. It is known that he served as a Circuit Judge in Chiriquí, Panama in 1848. Rafael Núñez married Soledad Román, the love of his life, a lady of Cartagena.
In 1848, Rafael Núñez founded in Cartagena, Colombia, the newspaper “La Democracia”, with the intention of promoting the presidential election of General José María Obando, as successor to José Hilario López. That same year he was appointed as Chief of Staff in Cartagena's government, and thus beginning his political life. In 1853 he was elected as MP to the Colombian Congress. In 854 he was elected Governor of the department of Bolívar. Between 1855-1857, during the government of Manuel María Mallarino, he served as Minister of the Treasury and Minister of War (nowadays called Minister of Defense).
In 1855 he published his first volume of political essays, under the name of "La Federación". Later, under the government of Mosquera, he served as Minister of the Treasury. After representing Colombia in the Ríonegro Treaty, he travelled abroad. He first lived in New York City for two years. Than he represented Colombia as a Diplomat in Le Havre and later he was appointed as the Colombian Consul in Liverpool.
He returned to Colombia in 1876 at the center of a political fight. He had been nominated as a candidate for the presidency in 1875, but did not win the election. Five years later he was elected President of Colombia for the 1880-1882 presidential term. Again, in 1884, he was re-elected President of Colombia, with the support of the Conservative Party.
He was the force behind La Regeneración (Regeneration) movement of 1884 and the new Constitution for Colombia of 1886. The Constitutional reform of 1886, carried out with the collaboration of Miguel Antonio Caro, is possibly the most outstanding political performance of Núñez. This constitution, with some later modifications, was essentially in effect until the proclamation of a new one in 1991.
From 1878 to 1888 he wrote hundreds of influential articles related to the constitutional reform for the newspapers 'La Luz' and 'La Nación' of Bogota, and 'El Porvenir' and 'El Impulso' of Cartagena. He also wrote the lyrics for the Colombian national anthem.
He was again re-elected to be President of Colombia in 1886 and in 1892, although he did not take office for his last term. Rather, his Vice-President, Miguel Antonio Caro was sworn in as President for the presidential tern of 1892-1898.
During his first administration, Rafael Núñez restores peace and order. He allowed the Catholic Bishops, who were in exile, to return to the country. He created the Military Academy and the National Academy of Music. He inaugurated the international telegraph service. He re-established diplomatic relationships with Spain, which had been severed since the War of Independence. And he signed international treaties of commerce and cultural exchange with France and Great Britain.
During his second administration, Rafael Núñez sponsored, championed and enacted a mayor and fundamental overhaul of the nation’s political structure, which ended with the adoption and enactment of the new Constitution of the Republic of Colombia, which came to be known as the Constitution of 1886.
The stamp above features Rafael Núñez, Colombian anthem lyricist issued in 1886.