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Independence and Consolidation, 1810-29

The political organization of Argentina was a long process that started with Argentina's assertion of autonomy on May 25, 1810, commonly referred to as the May Revolution. A political declaration of independence was not formalized until 1816, and a constitution was promulgated in 1853. Despite nominal loyalty to the captive Spanish king Ferdinand VII in 1810, the governing junta — whose most influential members were Cornelio Saavedra, Moreno, and Belgrano — began to address the most important questions posed in the viceroyalty: the protection of the Indians; the ascension of criollos to government positions; and the promotion of government services, agriculture, industry, and trade.

The revolution of 1810 generated an increase in political and economic regionalism. These were conflicts of interest between revolutionary nationalists and royalists, criollos and peninsulares, and Unitarians (Unitarios — mostly porteño centralists who advocated a strong central government) and Federalists (Federales — provincial autonomists who supported a loose confederation). They occurred even among junta members and led to its reorganization on August 12, 1810, along more conservative lines.

A porteno movement unfurled the banner of independence throughout the Rio de la Plata basin, and its Plan of Operations was a political project for independence under its control. But the hegemonic plans of Buenos Aires and its liberating expeditions were frustrated by strong resistance built along the lines of geographical isolation and regional pride.

On June 20, 1811, the revolutionaries were defeated at Huaqui (in present-day Bolivia) and lost the entire area of Upper Peru; the liberating column from Buenos Aires was repelled by Paraguayan forces, which were seasonsed by the numerous battles for autonomy during the colonial period.

On June 9, 1811, an independent junta had been created under the leadership of José Gaspar de Francia, who declared Paraguay independent from both porteño and Spanish control. The territorial losses of Upper Peru and Paraguay prompted the fall of the junta and the appointment of the first Triumvirate on September 23, 1811, composed of Feliciano Chiclana, Manuel de Sarratea, and Juan J. Paso.

Under the influence of Rivadavia, the Triumvirate instituted important changes through the creation of a commission of justice to deal with vagrants and delinquents and the establishment of a national library and schools. The Triumvirate commissioned Julian Perdriel to write a history of the revolution. It also announced the emancipation of slaves and decreed the freedom of the press.

The Triumvirate soon lost the support of the people, however. At the Literary Society of Buenos Aires, patriots began to organize in opposition to the Triumvirate for its having failed to convoke a congress and having neglected the liberating expedition of Beigrano to the north. After Belgrano's victory at Tucumán on September 24, 1812, the government lost all of its prestige, and on October 8 another revolutionary phase began.

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