Francisco Franco (1892-1975) was a Spanish General and political leader who governed Spain without democratic elections from 1939 to 1975. In 1936, as commander-in-chief of the Spanish Army garrison of Morocco, he rebelled, along with other Generals throughout Spain, against the Second Spanish Republic socialist government, triggering the Spanish Civil War. In this three-year-long armed conflict, the Nationalists, commanded by Francisco Franco, would fight against the Soviet-backed government forces. By March 1939, he had taken control of the whole country as he was proclaimed chief of Spain and head of State.
Francisco Franco was born on December 4, 1892, in Ferrol, Galicia, northern Spain. to a Catholic and conservative family. He began his military career when he was 14, in 1907, at the Spanish Army’s Infantry Academy in Toledo. By 1910, he was a lieutenant. As a captain, he would fight in the Spanish colonial wars against Muslim guerrillas in northern Africa. In July 1936, after the assassination of the conservative oposition leader, Jose Calvo Sotelo, by the Republican government police, Franco rose up against the government, stating the reasons for his uprise through a declaration.
Once in power, Franco managed to keep Spain neutral during World War II, but agreed to provide Germany with military support in Hitler’s Russian Campaign, contributing with a 20,000-man division, which would be the 250th Division, known as the Blue Division to fight against the forces of communism. Although he had maintained excellent diplomatic relations with Axis nations in the WWII, during the post-war period, Francisco Franco aligned with the free Western capitalist countries, signing a pact with the President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower, in 1953, by which he allowed the United States to establish a military base in Spain in exchange for a trade agreement and US economic assistance.
Before he died on November 20, 1975, General Francisco Franco had a democratic Constitution draft drawn up, ushering in the return of the monarchy, but with a parliamentary system, whose members (and president) would be elected through free democratic popular vote. This new Constitution would be approved by a Constituent Cortes in 1978.