Modest economic gains were made during the administration of General Leopoldo O'Donnell, an advocate of laissez-faire policies, who came to power in 1856 through a pronunciamiento. O'Donnell had encouraged foreign investors to provide Spain with a railroad system, and he had also sponsored Spain's overseas expansion, particularly in Africa. Little economic growth was stimulated, however, except in Catalonia and the Basque region, both of which had already possessed an industrial base. Promises for land reform were broken.
O'Donnell was one of a number of political and military figures around whom personalist political parties formed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most of these parties failed to survive their leaders' active political careers. O'Donnell, for example, formed the Liberal Union as a fusion party broad enough to hold most liberals and to counter the drift of left-wing Progressives to the Democrats. After several years of cooperating with the one-party parliamentary regime, the Progressives withdrew their support, and in 1866 a military coup toppled O'Donnell.
Juan Prim y Prats (1814-70), who had led an abortive uprising in 1866