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Unitarians and Federalists

The constituent congress met in Buenos Aires on December 16, 1824, and was vested with both legislative and constituent powers. Two factions emerged at the congress: the Unitarians, who advocated a strong central government under the control of Buenos Aires, and the Federalists, who defended provincial autonomy within a loose federation. The following month it passed a "fundamental law" that provided for provincial autonomy until a national constitution was adopted. On February 25, 1825, a treaty of commerce and friendship was signed between the provinces and Britain, and at the end of the year war broke out between Brazil and Argentina over the Banda Oriental.

The Cisplatine War grew out of colonial boundary disputes between Portugal and Spain, which in the late seventeenth century had led to the establishment of the Colnia do Sacramento. In 1820 Artigas was defeated by the Portuguese, and the following year Portugal annexed the Banda Oriental under the designation of Cisplatine Province. In 1822 Brazil became an independent monarchy but did not relinquish its claim to the area. Resistance against Brazilian pretensions and the acceptance of the Banda Oriental to the Buenos Aires constituent assembly of 1824 prompted Brazil to declare war on Argentina on December 1, 1825.

The threat of a foreign power served to unite Argentine governors and provincial caudillos, whose aid led to a victorious campaign. However, a peace agreement was signed between Brazil and those who opposed Rivadavia, which led to the effective loss of the Banda Oriental.

Meanwhile, at the constituent congress in Buenos Aires, a project for the creation of a national executive power was approved on February 6, 1826, and the congress elected Rivadavia first president of the United Provinces of South America. Rivadavia then moved to propose the federalization of the city of Buenos Aires as the capital of the United Provinces. Support for Rivadavia came from the Unitarians, who defended administrative and political centralism, while porteno and provincial Federalists rejected the loss of their provincial autonomy.

On July 19, 1826, a Unitarian constitution was approved, but rebellion then broke out in the provinces, and Rivadavia lost political support for his government. After Rivadavia's fall in 1827, a conservative provisional government was established in Buenos Aires, which negotiated a peace treaty with Brazil on September 5, 1828, for the independence of the Banda Oriental.





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