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The Revolutionary Assembly of 1813

The new revolutionary movement was led by José de San Martin and Carlos M. de Alvear. Both were born in what would later become Argentina and began military careers in Spain. When Napoleon's army invaded the Iberian Peninsula, both fought against the French. News about the revolution led them to return in March 1812 to fight for the liberation of their native land.

On October 8, 1812, San Martin and Alvear, leading the revolutionary troops, gained the resignation of the Triumvirate in favor of new triumvirs — Juan J. Paso, Nicolás Rodriguez Pena, and Antonio Alvarez Jonte — and called for a general congress of provincial representatives to be elected by universal suffrage. Although this was not planned to be a constituent assembly, a constitution for the free and independent provinces of the former viceroyalty, to be led by a centralist government, was commissioned.

The congress, known as the Revolutionary Assembly, met on January 31, 1813, and passed laws with provisions that almost amounted to a declaration of independence: abolition of vassalage to the king (even the Catholic church was instructed to pray for the people rather than the king); removal of all Europeans from government positions; issuing of a national currency; freedom of commerce; a United Provinces coat of arms to replace that of the king; manumission for the children of slaves; and an end to Indian labor obligations, titles of nobility, rights of promogeniture, and the physical punishment of prisoners. Other laws encouraged freedom of the press, a reorganization of the system of education, and the establishment of schools.

The assembly approved a reorganization of executive power under the leadership of one man — the director of the United Provinces — and appointed Gervasio A. Posadas the first director on January 31, 1814. Posadas' main concern centered on the Banda Oriental (present-day Uruguay), where Montevideo — still under royalist control — had been surrounded by the revolutionary army under the command of José Gervasio Artigas. In mid-1813 the assembly had refused to allow the participation of delegates from the Banda Oriental, which prompted Artigas to abandon his position at Montevideo in order to incite rebellion against the Posadas government in Entre Rios, Corrientes, and elsewhere in the Banda Oriental.

Posadas was forced to resign in January 1815 and was replaced by Alvear, whose tenure in office lasted only three months because of Artigas' advance on Buenos Aires and growing discontent in the city and in the interior. The fall of Alvear on April 15, 1815, brought about the dissolution of the Revolutionary Assembly.

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Page last modified: 07-01-2015 18:40:56 ZULU