Old photo of a national hero surfaces and becomes a gift to country

By the late 1850s portrait photography was well established. The science of taking photos evolved from the mid-1830s as newer procedures and chemicals reduced the time needed to expose a film from hours to a few seconds.

One of those who posed for a photo was Juan Rafael Mora, who served as president of Costa Rica. There are plenty of paintings of him, but until this week Costa Rica did not have a clear and detailed photo.

Cornell University had one, and a digital copy has been given to Costa Rican officials who visited New York to sign a scholarship agreement.

The photo is believed to have been taken in Panamá, said a summary from Casa Presidencial. It attributed the history to a researcher named  Luko Hilje. The government also praised Costa Rican businessman  Mauricio Ortiz Ortiz and its U.S. ambassador, Román F. Macaya Hayes, for arranging the delivery of the copy.

Mora was the president who rallied the country in 1856 to defeat William Walker and the filibusterers in Nicaragua.

Political victories are tenuous, and Mora was ousted a short time later and had to flee the country.

According to Casa Presidencial, he gave the photo of himself to the captain of a ship that carried him into exile. That was John M. Dow, whose photo album ended up at Cornell in Ithaca, New York, according to Casa Presidencial.

Mora was born in 1814, and the country has been celebrating the bicentennial of his birth.  Ortiz of Mudanzas APA Worldwide Movers is making documentaries related to portrait061915the theme, Casa Presidencial said.

Government officials are a little sensitive about Mora because when he returned to Costa Rica both he and his brother-in-law, Gen. José María Cañas Escamilla, failed to find the public support they expected and were sent to firing squads.

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