Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/509

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
471
ARGENTINA

elected, and in order to provide against the predominance of Buenos Aires, it was determined that Sante Fé should be the place of session. But this did not suit the porteños, as the people of Buenos Aires were called, and the province refused to take any part in the congressional proceedings. But Urquiza Buenos Aires and the provinces. was a man of different temperament from Rosas, and when he found that Buenos Aires refused to submit to his authority, he declined to use force. The congress had (May 1, 1853) appointed Urquiza president of the confederation, and he established the seat of government at Paraná. The province of Buenos Aires was recognized as an independent state, and under the enlightened administration of Doctor Obligado made rapid strides in commercial prosperity. The two sections of the Argentine nation contrived to exist as separate governments without an open breach of the peace until 1859, when the long-continued tension led to the outbreak of hostilities. The army of the porteños, commanded by Colonel Bartolomé Mitre, was defeated at Cepeda by the confederate forces under Urquiza, and Buenos Aires agreed to re-enter the confederation (November 11, 1859). Urquiza at this juncture resigned the presidency, and Doctor Santiago Derqui was elected president of the fourteen provinces with the seat of government at Paraná; while Urquiza became once more governor of Entre Rios, and Mitre was appointed governor of Buenos Aires.

The struggle for supremacy between Buenos Aires and the provinces had, however, to be fought out, and hostilities once more broke out in 1861. The armies of the opposing parties, under Generals Mitre and Urquiza respectively, Mitre president. met at Pavón in the province of Santa Fé (September 17). The battle ended in the disastrous defeat of the provincial forces; General Mitre used his victory in a spirit of moderation and sincere patriotism. He was elected president of the Argentine confederation and did his utmost to settle the questions which had led to so many civil wars, on a permanent and sound basis. The constitution of 1853 was maintained, but Buenos Aires became the seat of federal government without ceasing to be a provincial capital. Causes of friction still remained, but they did not develop into open quarrels, for Mitre was content to leave Urquiza in his province of Entre Rios, and the other administrators (caudillos) in their several governments, a large measure of autonomy, trusting that the position and growing commercial importance of Buenos Aires would inevitably tend to make the federal capital the real centre of power of the republic. In 1865 the Argentines were forced into war with Paraguay through the overbearing attitude of the president Francisco Solano Lopez. The dictator of Paraguay had quarrelled with Brazil for its intervention in the internal affairs of Uruguay, Paraguay war. and he demanded free passage for his troops across the Argentine province of Corrientes. This Mitre refused, and alliance was formed between Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, for joint action against Lopez. General Mitre became commander-in-chief of the combined armies for the invasion of Paraguay and was absent for several years in the field. The struggle was severe and attended by heavy losses, and it was not until 1870 that the Paraguayans were conquered, Lopez killed, and peace concluded (see Paraguay). Meanwhile, disturbances had broken out in the interior of Argentina (1867), which compelled Mitre to relinquish his command in Paraguay, and to call back a large part of the Argentine forces to suppress the insurrection. The rebels had hoped for assistance from Urquiza, but the powerful governor of Entre Rios maintained the peace in his province, which under his firm and beneficent rule had greatly prospered, and the revolutionary movement was quickly subdued.

In 1868 the term of General Mitre came to an end, and Doctor Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, a native of San Juan, was quietly elected to succeed him. His conduct of affairs was broad-minded and upright, and was characterized Sarmiento president. by earnest efforts to promote education and to develop the resources of the country. His period of office was marked by the rapid advance of Buenos Aires in population and prosperity, and by an expansion of trade that was unfortunately accompanied by financial extravagance. The war with Paraguay left a legacy of disputes concerning boundaries which almost led to war between the two victorious allies, Argentina and Brazil, but by the exertions of Mitre, who was sent at the close of 1872 as special envoy to Rio, a settlement was arrived at and friendly relations restored. The month of April 1870 saw an insurrection in Entre Rios headed by the caudillo, Lopez Jordan. Urquiza was assassinated, and the provincial legislature, through fear, at once proclaimed Lopez Jordan governor. The federal government refused to acknowledge the new governor, and troops were despatched by Sarmiento against Entre Rios. The contest lasted with varying success for more than a year, but finally Lopez Jordan was completely defeated and driven into exile.

The presidential election of 1874 resolved itself, as so often before, into a struggle between the provincials and the porteños (Buenos Aires). The candidate of the former, Dr Nicolas Avellaneda, triumphed over General Mitre, Avellaneda president. not without suspicions of tampering with the returns; and the unsuccessful party appealed to arms. The new president, however, who was installed in office on the 12th of October, took active steps to suppress the revolution, which never assumed a really serious character. The government troops gained two decisive victories over the insurgents under Generals Mitre and Arredondo, and they were compelled to surrender at discretion. But though peace was for a time restored, the old causes of soreness and dissension remained unappeased, and as the time for the next presidential election began to draw near, it became more and more evident that a critical struggle was at hand, and that the people of Buenos Aires, supported by the province of Corrientes, were determined to bring to an issue the question as to what position Buenos Aires was to hold for the future with regard to the remaining provinces of the confederation. It was evident that the president intended to use all the influence which the party in power could exercise, to secure the return of General Julio Roca, who had distinguished himself in 1878 by a successful campaign against the warlike Indian tribes bordering on the Andes. The porteños on their part were determined to resist this policy to the utmost. Mass meetings were held, and a committee was appointed for the purpose of considering what action should be taken to defeat the ambitious designs of the provincials. The Tiro Nacional. Under the direction of this committee, the association known as the “Tiro Nacional” was formed, with the avowed object of training the able-bodied citizens of Buenos Aires in military exercises and creating a volunteer army, ready for service if called upon, to withstand by force the pretensions of their opponents. The establishment of the Tiro Nacional was enthusiastically received by all classes in Buenos Aires, the men turning out regularly to drill, and the women aiding the movement by collecting subscriptions for the purpose of armament and other necessaries. On the 13th of February 1880, the minister of war, Dr Carlos Pellegrini, summoned the principal officers connected with the Tiro Nacional, General Bartolomé Mitre, his brother Emilio, Colonel Julio Campos, Colonel Hilario Lagos and others, and warned them that as officers of the national army they owed obedience to the national government, and would be severely punished if concerned in any revolutionary outbreak against the constituted authorities. The reply to this threat was the immediate resignation of their commissions by all the officers connected with the Tiro Nacional. Two days later, the national government occupied, with a strong force of infantry and artillery, the parade ground at Palermo used by the Buenos Aires volunteers for drill purposes. A great meeting of citizens was then called and marched through the streets. President Avellaneda was frightened at the results of his action, and to avoid a collision ordered the troops to be withdrawn. Negotiations were now opened by the government with the provincial authorities for the disarmament of the city and province of Buenos Aires, but they led to nothing. Matters became still further strained on account of the outrages committed by the national troops, and such was the bitterness of