Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/508

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470
ARGENTINA

but the step taken was a revolutionary one, and the 25th of May has ever since been regarded as the birthday of Argentine independence. Struggle for independence. The most prominent leader of the junta was its secretary Mariano Moreno (1778-1811), who with a number of other active supporters of the patriot cause succeeded in raising a considerable force of Buenos Aireans to maintain, arms in hand, their nationalist and anti-Spanish doctrines. An attempt of the Spanish party to make Balthasar de Cisneros president of the junta failed, and the ex-viceroy retired to Montevideo. A sanguinary struggle between the party of independence and the adherents of Spain spread over the whole country, and was carried on with varying fortune. Foremost among the leaders of the revolutionary armies were Manuel Belgrano, and after March 1812 General José de San Martin, an officer who had gained experience against the French in the Peninsular War. A state of disorder, almost of anarchy, reigned in the provinces, but on the 25th of March 1816 a congress of deputies was assembled at Tucumán, who named Don Martin Pueyrredón supreme director, and on the 9th of July the separation of the united provinces of the Rio de la Plata was formally proclaimed, and comparative order was re-established in the country; Buenos Aires was declared the seat of the government. The jealousy of the provinces, however, against the capital led to a series of disturbances, and for many years continual civil war devastated every part of the country. Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay rose in armed revolt, and finally established themselves as separate republics, whilst the city of Buenos Aires itself was torn with faction and the scene of many a sanguinary fight.

From 1816, however, the independence of the Argentine Republic was assured, and success attended the South Americans in their contest with the royal armies. The combined forces of Buenos Aires and Chile defeated the Spaniards Republic established. at Chacabuco in 1817, and at Maipú in 1818; and from Chile the victorious general José de San Martin led his troops into Peru, where on the 9th of July 1821, he made a triumphal entry into Lima, which had been the chief stronghold of the Spanish power, having from the time of its foundation by Pizarro been the seat of government of a viceroyalty which at one time extended to the river Plate. A general congress was assembled at Buenos Aires on the 1st of March 1822, of representatives from all the liberated provinces, and a general amnesty was decreed, though the war was not over until the 9th of December 1824, when the republican forces gained the final, victory of Ayacucho, in the Peruvian border-land. The Spanish government did not, however, formally acknowledge the independence of the country until the year 1842. On the 23rd of January 1825, a national constitution for the federal states, which formed the Argentine Republic, was decreed; and on the 2nd of February of the same year Sir Woodbine Parish, acting under the instructions of George Canning, signed a commercial treaty in Buenos Aires, by which the British government acknowledged the independence of the country. It had already been recognized by the United States of America two years previously.

In 1826 Bernardo Rivadavia was elected president of the confederation. His policy was to establish a strong central government, and he became the head of a party known as Unitarians in contradistinction to their opponents, Unitarians and Federalists. who were styled Federalists, their aim being to maintain to the utmost the local autonomy of the various provinces. Under the government of Rivadavia the people of Buenos Aires became involved, practically single-handed, in a war with Brazil in defence of the Banda Oriental, which had been seized by the imperial forces (see Uruguay). The Brazilians were defeated, notably at Ituzaingo, and in 1827 the war issued in the independence of Uruguay. Rivadavia’s term of office was likewise memorable for the constitution of the 24th of December 1826, passed by the constituent congress of all the provinces, by which the bonds which united the confederated states of the Argentine Republic were strengthened. This project of closer union met, however, with much opposition both at Buenos Aires and the provinces. Rivadavia resigned, and Vicente Lopez, a Federalist, was elected to succeed him, but was speedily displaced by Manuel Dorrego (1827), another representative of the same party. The carrying out of Federalist principles led, however, to the formation in the republic of a number of quasi-independent military states, and Dorrego only ruled in Buenos Aires. After the conclusion of the peace with Brazil, the Unitarians placed themselves under the leadership of General Juan de Lavalle, the victor of Ituzaingo. Lavalle, at the head of a division of troops, drove Dorrego from Buenos Aires, pursued him into the interior, and captured him. He was shot (December 9, 1828), by the order of Lavalle, and during the year 1828 the country was given up to the horrors of civil war.

On the death of Dorrego, a remarkable man, Juan Manuel de Rosas, became the Federalist chief. In 1829 he defeated Lavalle, made himself master of Buenos Aires, and in the course of the next three years made his authority recognized Rosas dictator. after much fighting throughout the provinces. The Unitarians were relentlessly hunted down and a veritable reign of terror ensued. Rosas gradually concentrated all power in his own hands, and was hailed by the populace as a saviour of the state. In 1835, with the title of governor and captain-general, he acquired dictatorial powers, and all public authority passed into his hands. This dictatorship of Rosas continued until 1852. In every department of administration and of government he was supreme. He was exceedingly jealous of foreign interference, and quarrelled with France on questions connected with the rights of foreign residents. Buenos Aires was in 1838 blockaded by a French fleet; but Rosas stood firm. A formidable revolt took place in 1839 under General Lavalle, who had returned to the country accompanied by a number of banished Unitarians. In 1840 he invaded Buenos Aires at the head of troops raised chiefly in the province of Entre Rios; but he was defeated at Santa Fé, then at Luján, and finally was captured in Jujuy and shot, 1841. The rule of Rosas was now one of tyranny and almost incessant bloodshed in Buenos Aires, while his partisans, foremost amongst whom was General Ignacio Oribe, endeavoured to exterminate the Unitarians throughout the provinces. The scene of slaughter was extended to the Banda Oriental by the attempt of Oribe, with the support of Rosas, and of Justo José de Urquiza, governor of Entre Rios, to establish himself as president of that republic (see Uruguay), where the existing government was hostile to Rosas and sheltered all political refugees from the country under his despotic rule. The siege of Montevideo led to a joint intervention of England and France. Buenos Aires was blockaded by the combined English and French fleets, September 1845, which landed a force to open the passage up the Paraná to Paraguay, which had been declared closed to foreigners by Rosas. A convention was signed in 1849, which secured the free navigation of the Paraná and the independence of the Banda Oriental. The downfall of Rosas was at last brought about by the instrumentality of Justo José de Urquiza, who as governor of Entre Rios, had for many years been one of his strongest supporters. The breach between the two men which led to open collision took place in 1846. The first efforts of Urquiza to rouse the country against the oppressor were unsuccessful, but in 1851 he concluded an alliance with Brazil, to which Uruguay afterwards adhered. A large army of twenty-four thousand men was collected at Montevideo, and on the 8th of January 1852 the allied forces crossed the Paraná and the road to Buenos Aires lay open before them. Rosas met the allies at the head of a body of troops fully equal in numbers to their own, but was crushingly routed, February 3rd, at Monte Caseros, about 10 m. from the capital. The dictator fled for refuge to the British legation, from whence he was conveyed on board H.B.M.S. “Locust,” which carried him into exile.

A provisional government was formed under Urquiza, and the Brazilian and Uruguayan troops withdrew. He summoned all the provincial governors at San Nicolás in the province of Buenos Aires, and on the 31st of May they proclaimed Urquiza president. a new constitution, with Urquiza as provisional director of the Argentine nation. A constituent congress, in which each province had equal representation, was duly