1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Argentina
ARGENTINA, or the Argentine Republic (officially, Republica Argentina), a country occupying the greater part of the southern extremity of South America. It is of wedge shape, extending from 21° 55′ S. to the most southerly point of the island of Tierra del Fuego in 55° 2′ 30″ S., while its extremes of longitude are 53° 40′ on the Brazilian frontier and 73° 17′ 30″ W. on the Chilean frontier. Its length from north to south is 2285 statute miles, and its greatest width about 930 m. It is the second largest political division of the continent, having an area of 1,083,596 sq. m. (Gotha measurement). It is bounded N. by Bolivia and Paraguay, E. by Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay and the Atlantic, W. by Chile, and S. by the converging lines of the Atlantic and Chile.
Boundaries.—At different times Argentina has been engaged in disputes over boundary lines with every one of her neighbours, that with Chile being only settled in 1902. Beginning at the estuary of the Rio de la Plata, the boundary line ascends the Uruguay river, on the eastern side of the strategically important island of Martin Garcia, to the mouth of the Pequiry, thence under the award of President Grover Cleveland in 1894 up that small river to its source and in a direct line to the source of the Santo Antonio, a small tributary of the Iguassú, thence down the Santo Antonio and Iguassú to the upper Paraná, which forms the southern boundary of Paraguay. From the confluence of the upper Paraná and Paraguay the line ascends the latter to the mouth of the Pilcomayo, which river, under the award of President R. B. Hayes in 1878, forms the boundary between Argentina and Paraguay from the Paraguay river north-west to the Bolivian frontier. In accordance with the Argentine-Bolivian treaty of 1889 the boundary line between these republics continues up the Pilcomayo to the 22nd parallel, thence west to the Tarija river, which it follows down to the Bermejo, thence up the latter to its source, and westerly through the Quiaca ravine and across to a point on the San Juan river opposite Esmoraca. From this point it ascends the San Juan south and west to the Cerro de Granadas, and thence south-west to Cerro Incahuasi and Cerro Zapalegui on the Chilean frontier. The boundary with Chile, extending across more than 32° lat., had been the cause of disputes for many years, which at times led to costly preparations for war. The debts of the two nations resulted largely from this one cause. In 1881 a treaty was signed which provided that the boundary line should follow the highest crests of the Andes forming the watershed as far south as the 52nd parallel, thence east to the 70th meridian and south-east to Cape Dungeness at the eastern entrance to the Straits of Magellan. Crossing the Straits the line should follow the meridian of 68° 44′, south to Beagle Channel, and thence east to the Atlantic, giving Argentina the eastern part of the Tierra del Fuego and Staten Island. By this agreement Argentina was confirmed in the possession of the greater part of Patagonia, while Chile gained control of the Straits of Magellan, much adjacent territory on the north, the larger part of Tierra del Fuego and all the neighbouring islands south and west.
When the attempt was made to mark this boundary the commissioners were unable to agree on a line across the Puna de Atacama in the north, where parallel ranges enclosing a high arid plateau without any clearly defined drainage to the Atlantic or Pacific, gave an opportunity for conflicting claims. In the south the broken character of the Cordillera, pierced in places by large rivers flowing into the Pacific and having their upper drainage basins on the eastern side of the line of highest crests, gave rise to unforeseen and very difficult questions. Finally, under a convention of the 17th of April 1896, these conflicting claims were submitted to arbitration. In 1899 a mixed commission with Hon. W. I. Buchanan, United States minister at Buenos Aires, serving as arbitrator, reached a decision on the Atacama line north of 26° 52′ 45″ S. lat., which was a compromise though it gave the greater part of the territory to Argentina. The line starts at the intersection of the 23rd parallel with the 67th meridian and runs south-westerly and southerly to the mountain and volcano summits of Rincón, Socompa, Llullaillaco, Azufre, Aguas Blancas and Sierra Nevada, thence to the initial point of the British award. (See Geogr. Jour., 1899, xiv. 322-323.) The line south of 26° 52′ 45″ S. lat. had been located by the commissioners of the two republics with the exception of four sections. These were referred to the arbitration of Queen Victoria, and, after a careful survey under the direction of Sir Thomas H. Holdich, the award was rendered by King Edward VII. in 1902. (See Geogr. Jour., 1903, xxi. 45-50.) In the first section the line starts from a pillar erected in the San Francisco pass, about 26° 50′ S. lat., and follows the water-parting southward to the highest peak of the Tres Cruces mountains in 27° 0′ 45″ S. lat., 68° 49′ 5″ W. long. In the second, the line runs from 40° 2′ S. lat., 71° 40′ 36″ W. long., along the water-parting to the southern termination of the Cerro Perihueico in the valley of the Huahum river, thence across that river, 71° 40′ 36″ W. long., and along the water-parting around the upper basin of the Huahum to a junction with the line previously determined. In the third and longest section, the line starts from a pillar erected in the Perez Rosales pass, near Lake Nahuel-Huapi, and follows the water-parting southward to the highest point of Mt. Tronador, and thence in a very tortuous course along local water-partings and across the Chilean rivers Manso, Puelo, Fetaleufu, Palena, Pico and Aisen, and the lakes Buenos Aires, Pueyrredón and San Martin, to avoid the inclusion of Argentine settlements within Chilean territory, to the Cerro Fitzroy and continental water-parting north-west of Lake Viedma, between 49° and 50° S. lat. The northern half of this line does not run far from the 72nd meridian, except in 44° 30′ S. where it turns eastward nearly a degree to include the upper valley of the Frias river in Chilean territory, but south of the 49th parallel it curves westward to give Argentina sole possession of lakes Viedma and Argentino. The fourth section, which was made particularly difficult of solution by the extension inland of the Pacific coast inlets and sounds and by the Chilean colonies located there, was adjusted by running the line eastward from the point of divergence in 50° 50′ S. lat. along the Sierra Baguales, thence south and south-east to the 52nd parallel, crossing several streams and following the crests of the Cerro Cazador. The Chilean settlement of Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope), over which there had been much controversy, remains under Chilean jurisdiction.
Science and Literature.—Though the university of Córdoba is the oldest but one in South America, it has made no conspicuous contribution to Argentine literature beyond the historical works of its famous rector, Gregorio Funes (1749-1830). This university was founded in 1621 and the university of Buenos Aires in 1821, but although Bonpland and some other European scientists were members of the faculty of Buenos Aires in its early years, neither there nor at Córdoba was any marked attention given to the natural sciences until President Sarmiento (official term, 1868-1874) initiated scientific instruction at the university of Córdoba under the eminent German naturalist, Dr Hermann Burmeister (1807-1892), and founded the National Observatory at Córdoba and placed it under the direction of the noted American astronomer, Benjamin Apthorp Gould (1824-1896). Both of these men made important contributions to science, and rendered an inestimable service to the country, not only through their publications but also through the interest they aroused in scientific research. A bureau of meteorology was afterwards created at Córdoba which has rendered valuable service. Dr Burmeister was afterwards placed in charge of the provincial museum of Buenos Aires, and devoted himself to the acquisition of a collection of fossil remains, now in the La Plata museum, which ranks among the best of the world. Not only has scientific study advanced at the university of Buenos Aires, but scientific research is promoting the development of the country; examples are the geographical explorations of the Andean frontier, and especially of the Patagonian Andes, by Francisco P. Moreno. In literature Argentina is still under the spell of Bohemianism and dilettanteism. Exceptions are the admirable biographies of Manuel Belgrano (d. 1820) and San Martin, important contributions to the history of the country and of the war of independence, by ex-President Bartolomé Mitre (1821-1906). Buenos Aires has some excellent daily journals, but the tone of the press in general is sensational. The number of newspapers published is large, especially in Buenos Aires, where in 1902 the total, including sundry periodicals, was 183.
Political Divisions and Towns.—The chief political divisions of the republic consist of one federal district, 14 provinces and 10 territories, the last in great part dating from the settlement of the territorial controversies with Chile. For purposes of local administration the provinces are divided into departments. The names, area and population of the provinces and territories are as follows:—
Santiago del Estero
Tierra del Fuego
Gotha computations of 1902
with corrections for boundary
The principal towns, with estimated population for 1905, are as follows: Buenos Aires (1,025,653), Rosario (129,121), La Plata (85,000), Tucumán (55,000), Córdoba (43.000), Sante Fé (33,200), Mendoza (32,000), Paraná (27,000), Salta (18,000), Corrientes (18,000), Chivilcoy (15,000), Gualeguaychú (13,300), San Nicolás (13,000), Concordia (11,700), San Juan (11,500), Río Cuarto (10,800), San Luis (10,500), Barracas al Sud (10,200).
Government.—The present constitution of Argentina dates from the 25th of September 1860. The legislative power is vested in a congress of two chambers—the senate, composed of 30 members (two from each province and two from the capital), elected by the provincial legislatures and by a special body of electors in the capital for a term of nine years; and the chamber of deputies, of 120 members (1906), elected for four years by direct vote of the people, one deputy for every 33,000 inhabitants. To the chamber of deputies exclusively belongs the initiation of all laws relating to the raising of money and the conscription of troops. It has also the exclusive right to impeach the president, vice-president, cabinet ministers, and federal judges before the senate. The executive power is exercised by the president, elected by presidential electors from each province chosen by direct vote of the people. The president and vice-president are voted for by separate tickets. The system closely resembles that followed in the United States. The president must be a native citizen of Argentina, a Roman Catholic, not under thirty years of age, and must have an annual income of at least $2000. His term of office is six years, and neither he nor the vice-president is eligible for the next presidential term. All laws are sanctioned and promulgated by the president, who is invested with the veto power, which can be overruled only by a two-thirds vote. The president, with the advice and consent of the senate, appoints judges, diplomatic agents, governors of territories, and officers of the army and navy above the rank of colonel. All other officers and officials he appoints and promotes without the consent of the senate. The cabinet is composed of eight ministers—the heads of the government departments of the interior, foreign affairs, finance, war, marine, justice, agriculture, and public works. They are appointed by and may be removed by the president.
Justice is administered by a supreme federal court of five judges and an attorney-general, which is also a court of appeal, four courts of appeal, with three judges each, located in Buenos Aires, La Plata, Paraná and Córdoba, and by a number of inferior and local courts. Each province has also its own judicial system. Trial by jury is established by the constitution, but never practised. Civil and criminal courts are both corrupt and dilatory. In May 1899 the minister of justice stated in the chamber of deputies that the machinery of the courts in the country was antiquated, unwieldy and incapable of performing its duties; that 50,000 cases were then waiting decision in the minor courts, and 10,000 in the federal division; and that a reconstruction of the judiciary and the judicial system had become necessary. In June 1899 he sent his project for the reorganization of the legal procedure to congress, but no action was then taken beyond referring the bill to a committee for examination and report. The proceedings are, with but few exceptions, written, and the procedure is a survival of the antiquated Spanish system.
Under the constitution, the provinces retain all the powers not delegated to the federal government. Each province has its own constitution, which must be republican in form and in harmony with that of the nation. Each elects its governor, legislators and provincial functionaries of all classes, without the intervention of the federal government. Each has its own judicial system, and enacts laws relating to the administration of justice, the distribution and imposition of taxes, and all matters affecting the province. All the public acts and judicial decisions of one province have full legal effect and authority in all the others. In cases of armed resistance to a provincial government, the national government exercises the right to intervene by the appointment of an interventor, who becomes the executive head of the province until order is restored. The territories are under the direct control of the national government.
Army.—The military service of the republic was reorganized in 1901, and is compulsory for all citizens between the ages of 20 and 45. The army consists of: (1) The Line, comprising the Active and Reserve, in which all citizens 20 to 28 years of age are obliged to serve; (2) the National Guard, comprising citizens of 28 to 40 years; (3) the Territorial Guard, comprising those 40 to 45 years. Conscripts of 20 years of age have to serve two years, three months each year. The active or standing army comprises 18 battalions of infantry, 12 regiments of cavalry, 8 regiments of artillery, and 4 battalions of engineers. A military school, with 125 cadets, is maintained at San Martin, near the national capital, and a training school for non-commissioned officers in the capital itself. Compulsory attendance of young men at national guard drills is enforced for at least two months of the year, under penalty of enforced service in the Line. In 1906 the president announced that permission had been given by the German emperor for 30 Argentine officers to enter the German army each year and to serve eighteen months, and also for five officers to attend the Berlin Military Academy. The equipment of the standing army is thoroughly modern, the infantry being provided with Mauser rifles and the artillery with Krupp batteries.
Navy.—The disputes with Chile during the closing years of the 19th century led to a large increase in the navy, but in 1902 a treaty between the two countries provided for the restriction of further armaments for the next four years. The naval vessels then under construction were accordingly sold, but in 1906 both countries, influenced apparently by the action of Brazil, gave large orders in Europe for new vessels. At the time when further armaments were suspended, the effective strength of the Argentine navy consisted of 3 ironclads, 6 first-class armoured cruisers, 2 monitors (old), 4 second-class cruisers, 2 torpedo cruisers, 3 destroyers, 3 high-sea torpedo boats, 14 river torpedo boats, 1 training ship, 5 transports, and various auxiliary vessels. Two of these first-class cruisers were sold to Japan. The armament included 394 guns of all calibres, 6 of which were of 250 millimetres, 4 of 240, and 12 of 200. There are about 320 officers in active service, and the total personnel ranges from 5000 to 6000 men. The service is not popular, and it is recruited by means of conscription from the national guard, the term of service being two years. These conscripts number about 2000 a year. In addition, there is a corps of coast artillery numbering 450 men, from which garrisons are drawn for the military port, Zárate arsenal and naval prison. The government maintains a naval school at Flores, a school of mechanics in Buenos Aires, an artillery school on the cruiser “Patagonia,” and a school for torpedo practice at La Plata. The naval arsenal is situated on the “north basin” of the Buenos Aires port, and the military port at Bahia Blanca is provided with a dry dock of the largest size, and extensive repair shops. There is also a dockyard and torpedo arsenal at La Plata, an artillery depot at Zárate, above Buenos Aires, and naval depots on the island of Martin Garcia and at Tigre, on the Luján river.
Education.—Primary education is free and secular, and is compulsory for children of 6 to 14 years. In the national capital and territories it is supervised by a national council of education with the assistance of local school boards; in the 14 provinces it is under provincial control. Secondary instruction is also free, but is not compulsory. It is under the control of the national government, which in 1902 maintained 19 colleges. Of these colleges four are in Buenos Aires, one in each province, and one in Concepción del Uruguay. For the instruction of teachers the republic has 28 normal schools, as follows: three in the national capital; one in Paraná, three (regional) in Corrientes, San Luis and Catamarca; 14 for female teachers in the provincial capitals; and seven for either sex in the larger towns of the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fé, Córdoba and San Luis. The normal schools, maintained by the state on a secular basis, were founded by President Sarmiento, who engaged experienced teachers in the United States to direct them; their work is excellent; notably, their model primary schools. For higher and professional education there are two national universities at Buenos Aires and Córdoba, and three provincial universities, at La Plata, Santa Fé and Paraná, which comprise faculties of law, medicine and engineering, in addition to the usual courses in arts and science. To meet the needs of technical and industrial education there are a school of mines at San Juan, a school of viticulture at Mendoza, an agronomic and veterinary school at La Plata, several agricultural and pastoral schools, and commercial schools in Buenos Aires, Rosario, Bahia Blanca and Concordia. Schools of art and conservatories of music are also maintained in the large cities, where there are, besides, many private schools. Secular education has been vigorously opposed by strict churchmen, and efforts have been made to maintain separate schools under church control. The national government has founded several scholarships (some in art) for study abroad. The total school population of Argentina in 1900 (6 to 14 years) was 994,089, of which 45% attended school, and 13% of those not attending were able to read and write. The illiterate school population was about 41%, and of those of 15 years and over 54% were illiterate. Of the whole population over 6 years, 50.5% were illiterate.
Religion.—The Argentine constitution recognizes the Roman Catholic religion as that of the state, but tolerates all others. The state controls all ecclesiastical appointments, decides on the passing or rejection of all decrees of the Holy See, and provides an annual subsidy for maintenance of the churches and clergy. Churches and chapels are founded and maintained by religious orders and private gift as well. At the head of the Argentine hierarchy are one archbishop and five suffragan bishops, who have five seminaries for the education of the priesthood. From statistics of 1895 it appears that in each 1000 of population 991 are Roman Catholics, 7 Protestants, and 2 Jews, the Jews being entirely of Russian origin, sent into the republic since 1891 by the Jewish Colonization Association under the provisions of the Hirsch legacy; from 1895 to 1908 the number of Jews in Argentina increased from 6085 to about 30,000.
|Total Revenue.||Total Expenditure.|
|1864||$7,005,328 gold.||$7,119,931 gold.|
|1880||19,594,306 ”||26,919,295 ”|
|1890||73,150,856 ”||95,363,854 ”|
|External debt (July 31, 1905):|
|Provincial loans and others, assumed||30,395,916|
|Consolidated Internal debt (Dec. 31, 1904):|
|Total service on funded debt, 1905,|
|$24,375,067 gold, and $15,914,335 paper||£6,225,669|
|Treasury bills (Apr. 30, 1905)||275,220|
|Unpaid bills, $3,332,594, paper||288,560|
The first Europeans who visited the river Plate were a party of Spanish explorers in search of a south-west passage to the East Indies. Their leader, Juan Diaz de Solis, landing incautiously in 1516 on the north coast with a few attendants to parley with a body of Charrua Indians, was suddenly attacked by them and was killed, together with a number of his followers. This untoward disaster led to the abandonment of the expedition, which forthwith returned to Spain, bringing with them the news of the discovery of a fresh-water sea. Four years later (1520) the Portuguese seaman, Ferdinand Magellan, entered the estuary in his celebrated voyage round the world, undertaken in the service of the king of Spain (Charles I., better known as the emperor Charles V.). Magellan, as soon as he had satisfied himself that there was no passage to the west, left the river without landing.
The first attempt to penetrate by way of the river Plate and its affluents inland, with a view to effecting settlements in the interior, was made in 1526 by Sebastian Cabot. This great navigator had already won renown in the service Cabot. of Henry VII. of England by his voyage to the coast of North America in company with his father, Giovanni Caboto or Cabot (see Cabot, John). Sebastian Cabot had in 1519 deserted England for Spain, and had received from King Charles the post of pilot-major formerly held by Juan de Solis. In 1526 he was sent out in command of an expedition fitted out for the purpose of determining by astronomical observations the exact line of demarcation, under the treaty of Tordesillas, between, the colonizing spheres of Spain and Portugal, and of conveying settlers to the Moluccas. Arrived in the river Plate in 1527, rumours reached Cabot of mineral wealth and a rich and civilized empire in the far interior, and he resolved to abandon surveying for exploration. He built a fort a short distance up the river Uruguay, and despatched one of his lieutenants, Juan Alvarez Ramón, with a separate party upon an expedition up stream. This expedition was assailed by the Charruas and forced to return on foot, their leader himself being killed. Cabot, with a large following, entered the Paraná and established a settlement just above the mouth of the river Carcarañal, to which he gave the name of San Espiritù, among the Timbú Indians, with whom he formed friendly relations. He continued the ascent of the Paraná as far as the rapids of Apipé, and finding his course barred in this direction, he afterwards explored the river Paraguay, which he mounted as far as the mouth of the affluent called by the Indians Lepeti, now the river Bermejo. His party was here fiercely attacked by the Agaces or Payaguá Indians, and suffered severely. Cabot in his voyage had seen many silver ornaments in the possession of the Timbú and Guarani Indians. Some specimens of these trinkets he sent back to Spain with a report of his discoveries. The arrival of these first-fruits of the mineral wealth of the southern continent gained for the estuary of the Paraná the name which it has since borne, that of Rio de la Plata, the silver river. As Cabot was descending the stream to his settlement of San Espiritù, he encountered an expedition which had been despatched from Spain for the express purpose of exploring the river discovered by Solis, under the command of Diego Garcia. Finding that he had been forestalled, Garcia resolved to return home. Cabot himself, after an absence of more than three years, came back in 1530, and applied to Charles V. for means to open up communications with Peru by way of the river Bermejo. The emperor’s resources were, however, absorbed by his struggle for European supremacy with Francis I. of France, and he was obliged to leave the enterprise of South American discoveries to his wealthy nobles. Cabot’s colony at San Espiritù did not long survive his departure; an attempt of the chief of the Timbús to gain possession of one of the Spanish ladies of the settlement led to a treacherous massacre of the garrison.
Two years after the return of Cabot, the news of Francisco Pizarro’s marvellous conquest of Peru reached Europe (1532), and stirred many an adventurous spirit to strive to emulate his good fortune. Among these was Pedro Mendoza. de Mendoza, a Basque nobleman. He obtained from Charles V. a grant (asiento) of two hundred leagues of the coast from the boundary of the Portuguese possessions southward towards the Straits of Magellan, and the inland country which lay behind it. Mendoza undertook to conquer and settle the territory at his own charges, certain profits being reserved to the crown. In August 1534 the adelantado, or governor, sailed from San Lucar, at the head of the largest and wealthiest expedition that had ever left Europe for the New World. In January 1535 he entered the river Plate, where he followed the northern shore to the island of San Gabriel, and then crossing over he landed by Buenos Aires. a little stream, still called Riachuelo. The name of Buenos Aires was given to the country by Sancho del Campo, brother-in-law of the adelantado, who first stepped ashore. Here, on the 2nd of February, Mendoza laid the foundations of a settlement which in honour of the day he named Santa Maria de Buenos Aires. Mendoza, after some fierce encounters with the Indians, now proceeded up the Paraná, and built a fort, which he called Corpus Christi, near the site of Cabot’s former settlement of San Espiritù. The expedition, which originally numbered 2500 men, was reduced by deaths at the hands of the Indians, by disease and privation, within a year to less than 500 men. From Corpus Christi, Mendoza sent out various bodies to explore the interior in the direction of Peru, but without much success, and at length, thoroughly discouraged and broken in health, he abandoned his enterprise, and returned to Spain in 1537.
A portion of one of the expeditions he despatched, under Juan de Ayolas, pushing up the Paraguay, is said to have reached the south-east districts of Peru, but while returning laden with booty, was attacked by the Payaguá Indians, and every man Asunción. perished. The other portion, which had stayed behind as a reserve under Domingos Iralá, had better fortunes. Finding their comrades did not return, Iralá and his companions determined to descend the river, and on their downward journey opposite the mouth of the river Pilcomayo, finding a suitable site for colonizing, they founded (1536) what proved to be the first permanent Spanish settlement in the interior of South America, the future city of Asunción (15th August 1536).
In the meantime the colony at Buenos Aires had been dragging on a miserable existence, and after terrible sufferings from famine and from the ceaseless attacks of the Indians, the remaining settlers abandoned the place and made their way up Iralá. the river first to Corpus Christi, then to Asunción. Here, by the emperor’s orders, the assembled Spaniards proceeded to the election of a captain-general, and their choice fell almost unanimously on Domingos Martinez de Iralá, who was proclaimed captain-general of the Rio de la Plata (August 1538). In 1542 the settlement of Buenos Aires was re-established by an expedition sent for the purpose from Spain, under a tried adelantado, Cabeza de Vaca. This able leader, eager to reach Asunción as quickly as possible, sent on his ships to the river Plate, but himself with a small following marched overland from Santa Catherina on the coast of Brazil to join Iralá. His doings at Asunción belong, however, not to the history of Argentina, but of Paraguay. Suffice it to say that differences with Iralá eventually led to his arrest, and to his being sent back to Spain to answer to the charges brought against him for maladministration. The second settlement made by his expedition at Buenos Aires was even less successful and long-lived than the first. Exposed to the incessant attacks of the savages, the place was a second time abandoned, February 1543.
Forty years were now to elapse before any further efforts were made by the Spaniards to colonize any part of the territory of the river Plate and lower Paraná. In 1573 Juan de Garay, at the head of an expedition despatched Juan de Garay. from Asunción, founded the city of Santa Fé near the abandoned settlements of San Espiritù and Corpus Christi. Seven years later (1580), when the new colony had been firmly established, Juan de Garay proceeded southwards, and made the third attempt to build a city on the site of Buenos Aires; and despite the determined hostility of the Querendi Indians he succeeded in finally gaining a complete mastery over them. In a desperate battle, the natives were defeated with great slaughter, and the territory surrounding the town was divided into ranches, in which the conquered natives had to labour. The new town received from Garay the name of Ciudad de la Santissima Trinidad, while its port retained the old appellation of Santa Maria de Buenos Aires. It was endowed by its founder with a cabildo (corporation) and full Spanish municipal privileges. Garay, when on his way to Santa Fé, was unfortunately murdered by a party of Indians, Minuas (Mimas), three years later, while incautiously sleeping on the river bank near the ruins of San Espiritù. The new settlement, however, continued to prosper, and the cattle and horses brought from Europe multiplied and spread over the plains of the Pampas.
In the meantime the Spaniards had penetrated into the interior of what is now the Argentine Republic, and established themselves on the eastern slopes of the Andes. In 1553 an expedition from Peru made their way through the mountain region and founded the city of Santiago del Estero, that of Tucumán in 1565, and that of Córdoba in 1573. Another expedition from Chile, under Garcia Hurtado de Mendoza, crossed the Cordillera in 1559, and having defeated the Araucanian Indians, made a settlement which from the name of the leader was called Mendoza. In 1620 Buenos Aires was separated from the authority of the government established at Asunción, and was made the seat of a government extending over Mendoza, Santa Fé, Entre Rios and Corrientes, but at the same time remained like the government of Paraguay at Asunción, and that of the province of Tucumán, which had Córdoba as its capital, subject to the authority of the viceroyalty of Peru.
Thus at the opening of the 17th century, after many adventurous efforts, and the expenditure of many lives and much treasure, the Spaniards found themselves securely established on the river Plate, and had planted a Evils of Spanish colonial system. number of centres of trade and colonization in the interior. Unfortunately, in no part of the Spanish oversea possessions did the restrictive legislation of the home government operate more harshly or disadvantageously to the interests of the colony; it was a more effective hindrance to the development of its resources and the spread of civilization over the country, than the hostility of the Indians. Cabot had urged the feasibility of opening an easier channel for trade with the interior of Peru through the river Plate and its tributaries, than that by way of the West Indies and Panama; and now that his views were able to be realized, the interests of the merchants of Seville and of Lima, who had secured a monopoly of the trade by the route of the isthmus, were allowed to destroy the threatened rivalry of that by the river Plate. Never in the history of colonization has a mother country pursued so relentlessly a policy more selfish and short-sighted. Spanish legislation was not satisfied with endeavouring to exclude all European nations except Spain from trading with the West Indies, but it sought to limit all commerce to one particular route, and it forbade any trade being transacted by way of the river Plate, thus enacting the most flagrant injustice towards the people it had encouraged to settle in the latter country. The strongest protests were raised, but the utmost they could effect was that, in 1618, permission was granted to export from Buenos Aires two shiploads of produce a year. But the Spanish government was not content with the prohibition of sea-borne commerce. To prevent internal trade with Peru a custom-house was set up at Córdoba to levy a duty of 50% on everything in transit to and from the river Plate. In 1665 the relaxation of this system was brought about by the continual remonstrances of the people, Asiento question. but for more than a century afterwards (until 1776) the policy of exclusion was enforced. This naturally led to a contraband trade of considerable dimensions. The English, after the treaty of Utrecht (1715) held the contract (asiento) for supplying the Spanish-American colonies with negro slaves. Among other places the slave ships regularly visited Buenos Aires, and despite the efforts of the Spanish authorities, contrived both to smuggle in and carry away a quantity of goods. This illicit commerce went on steadily till 1739, when it led to an outbreak of war between England and Spain, which put an end to the asiento. The Portuguese were even worse offenders, for in 1680 they made a settlement on the north of the river Plate, right opposite to Buenos Aires, named Colonia, which with one or two short intervals, remained in their hands till 1777. From this port foreign merchandise found its way duty free into the Spanish provinces of Buenos Aires, Tucumán and Paraguay, and even into the interior of Peru. The continual encroachments of the Portuguese at length led the Spanish government to take the important step of making Buenos Aires the seat of a viceroyalty with jurisdiction over the territories of the present republics of Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and the Argentine Confederation (1776). At the same time all this country was opened to Spanish trade even with Peru, and the development of its resources, so long thwarted, was allowed comparatively free play. Pedro de Zeballos, the first viceroy, took with him from Spain a large military force with which he finally expelled the Portuguese from the banks of the river Plate.
The wars of the French Revolution, in which Spain was allied with France against Great Britain, interrupted the growing prosperity of Buenos Aires. On the 17th of June 1806 General William Beresford landed with a body of Effects of French war. troops from a British fleet under the command of Sir Home Popham, and obtained possession of Buenos Aires. But a French officer, Jacques de Liniers, gathered together a large force with which he enclosed the British within the walls, and finally, on the 12th of August, by a successful assault, forced Beresford and his troops to surrender. In July 1807 another British force of eight thousand men under General Whitelock endeavoured to regain possession of Buenos Aires, but strenuous preparations had been made for resistance, and after fierce street fighting the invading army, after suffering severe losses, was compelled to capitulate. The colonists, who had achieved their two great successes without any aid from the home government, were naturally elated, and began to feel a new sense of self-reliance and confidence in their own resources. The successful defence of Buenos Aires accentuated the growing feeling of dissatisfaction with the Spanish connexion, which was soon to lead to open insurrection. The establishment of the Napoleonic dynasty at Madrid was the actual cause which brought about the disturbances which were to end in separation. Liniers was viceroy on the arrival of the news of the crowning of Joseph Bonaparte as king of Spain, but as a Frenchman he was distrusted and was deposed by the adherents of Ferdinand VII. The central junta at Seville, acting in the name of Ferdinand, appointed Balthasar de Cisneros to be viceroy in his place. He entered upon the duties of his office on the 19th of July 1809, and at first he gained popularity by acceding to the urgent appeals of the people and throwing open the trade of the country to all nations. But his measures speedily gave dissatisfaction to the Argentine or Creole party, who had long chafed under the disabilities of Spanish rule, and who now felt themselves no longer bound by ties of loyalty to a country which was in the possession of the French armies.
On the 25th of May 1810 a great armed assembly met at Buenos Aires and a provisional junta was formed to supersede the authority of the viceroy and carry on the government. The acts of the new government ran in the name of Ferdinand VII., 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 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 feeling developed between the two factions, that an appeal to arms became inevitable.
In the month of June 1880, President Avellaneda and his ministers left Buenos Aires, and this act was considered by the porteño leaders equivalent to a declaration of war. The national government and the twelve provinces Appeal to Arms. forming the Córdoba League, were ranged on one side; the city and province of Buenos Aires and the province of Corrientes on the other. The national troops were well armed with Remington rifles, provided with abundant ammunition, equipped with artillery and supported by the fleet. In the city and province of Buenos Aires, plenty of volunteers offered their services, and an army of some twenty-five thousand men was quickly raised, but they were armed with old-fashioned weapons and there was only a limited supply of ammunition. Feverish attempts were made to remedy the lack of warlike stores, but difficulty was experienced on account of the fleet blockading the entrance to the river. After several skirmishes, the national army commanded by General Roca, containing many troops seasoned in Indian campaigns, assaulted the porteños posted Fall of Buenos Aires. before Buenos Aires, and after two days’ hard fighting (20th and 21st July) forced its way into the town. On 23rd July the surrender of the city was demanded and obtained. The terms of the surrender were that all the leaders of the revolution should be removed from positions of authority, all government employees implicated in the movement dismissed, and the force in the province and city of Buenos Aires at once disarmed and disbanded. The power of Buenos Aires was thus completely broken and at the mercy of the Córdoba League. The porteños were no longer in a position to nominate a candidate in opposition to General Julio Roca, who was duly elected. He assumed office in October 1880.
Hitherto General Roca had been regarded only in his capacity as a soldier, and not from the point of view of an administrator. In the campaigns against the Indians in the south-west of the province of Buenos Aires and the valley of Roca president. the Rio Negro he had gained much prestige; the victory over Buenos Aires added to his fame, and secured his authority in the outlying provincial centres. One of the first notable acts of the Roca administration was to declare the city of Buenos Aires the property of the national government. This separation of the city from the province, and its federalization had been one of the chief aims of the Córdoba League, and was the natural consequence of the crushing defeat inflicted on the porteños. As a sequel to this step, in 1884 the town of La Plata was declared to be the capital of the province of Buenos Aires, and the provincial administration was moved to that place. This federalization of the capital has proved to be a most important factor in binding together the different parts of the confederation, and in promoting the evolution of an Argentine nation out of a loosely cemented union of a number of semi-independent states.
Considering the circumstances in which General Roca assumed office, it must be admitted that he showed great moderation and used the practically absolute power that he possessed to establish a strong central government, and to initiate a national policy, which aimed at furthering the prosperity and development of the whole country. He was able by the influence he exerted to keep down the internal dissensions and insurrectionary outbreaks which had so greatly impeded for many years the development of the vast natural resources of the republic. With this object he had promoted the extension of railways so as to link the provinces with the great port of Buenos Aires, and to provide at the same time facilities for the rapid despatch of military forces to disturbed districts. Unfortunately the last two years of Roca’s term of office were marked by two grave errors, which subsequently caused widespread suffering and distress throughout the country. The first of these mistakes was a measure making (January 1885) the currency inconvertible for a period of two years. This act, which was only decided upon after much hesitation, had a most deleterious effect upon the national credit. The second was the nomination of Dr Miguel Juarez Celman for the presidential term commencing in October 1886. The nomination was brought about by the Córdoba clique, and Roca lacked the moral courage to oppose the decision of this group, though he was well aware that Celman, who was his brother-in-law, was neither intellectually nor morally fitted for the post.
No sooner had President Juarez Celman come into power towards the close of 1886, than the respectable portion of the community began to feel alarmed at the methods practised by the new president in his conduct of Celman president. public affairs. At first it was hoped that the influence of General Roca would serve to check any serious extravagance on the part of Celman. This hope, however, was doomed to disappointment, and before many months had elapsed it was clear that the president would listen to no prudent counsels from Roca or from any one else. The men of the old Córdoba League became dominant in all branches of the government, and carpet-bagging politicians occupied every official post. In their hurry to obtain wealth, this crowd of office-mongers from the provinces lent themselves to all kinds of bribery and corruption. The public credit was pledged at home and abroad to fill the pockets of the adventurers, and the wildest excesses were committed under the guise of administrative acts. What followed in the second and third years of the Celman administration can only adequately be described as a debauchery of the national honour, of the national resources, of the rights of Argentines as citizens of the republic. Buenos Aires was still prostrate under the crushing blow of the misfortunes of 1880, and lacked strength and power of organization necessary to raise any effective protest against the proceedings of Celman and his friends when the true character of these proceedings was first understood. The conduct of public affairs, however, at length became so scandalous, that action on the part of the more sober-minded and conservative sections was seen to be absolutely imperative if the country was to be saved from speedy and certain ruin. In 1889 the association of the “Union Civica” The Union Civica. was founded, and the organization undertaken by Dr Leandro Alem, Dr Aristobulo del Valle, Dr Bernardo Irigoyen, Dr Vicente Lopez, Dr Lucio Lopez, Dr Oscar Lilliedale and other leading citizens. The untiring energy and zeal of Leandro Alem fitted him for being the chief organizer of a movement into which he threw himself heart and soul. Mass meetings were held in Buenos Aires, and it fell specially to the lot of Dr del Valle, who was an able orator as well as a sincere patriot, to expose the irresponsible and corrupt character of the administration, and the terrible dangers that threatened the republic through its reckless extravagance and financial improvidence. Subsidiary clubs affiliated to the central administration were formed throughout the length and breadth of the country, and millions of leaflets and pamphlets were distributed broadcast to explain the importance of the movement. President Celman underrated the strength of the new opposition, and relied upon his armed forces promptly to suppress any signs of open hostility. No change was made in official methods, and the condition of affairs drifted from bad to worse, until the temper of the people, so long and so sorely tried, showed plainly that the situation had become insufferable. The Union Civica then decided to make a bold bid for freedom by attempting forcibly to eject Celman and his clique from office.
On the night of the 26th of July 1890 the Union Civica called its members to arms. It was joined by some regiments of the regular army and received the support of the fleet. Barricades were thrown up in the principal streets, and the surrounding houses were occupied by the insurgents. Two days of desultory street fighting ensued, during which the fleet began to bombard the city, but was compelled to desist by the interference of foreign men-of-war, on the ground that the bombardment was causing unnecessary damage to the life and property of non-combatants. A suspension of hostilities then took place, and negotiations were opened between the contending parties. Celman, acting upon the advice of General Roca, who recognized the strength of public opinion in the outbreak, placed his resignation in the hands of congress on the 31st of July. A scene of intense enthusiasm followed, and Buenos Aires was en fête for the following three days. The vice-president of the confederation, Carlos Pellegrini, who had been minister of war under presidents Avellaneda and Roca and had had much administrative experience, succeeded without opposition to the vacant post.
Much satisfaction was shown in Europe at the fall of President Celman, for investors had suffered heavily by the way in which the resources of Argentina had been dissipated by a corrupt government, and hopes were entertained Pellegrini president. that the uprising of public opinion against his financial methods signified a more honest conduct of the national affairs in the future. Great expectations were entertained of the ability of President Pellegrini to establish a sound administration, and he succeeded in forming a ministry which gave general satisfaction throughout the country. General Roca was induced to undertake the duties of minister of the interior, and his influence in the provinces was sufficient to check any attempts to stir up disturbances at Córdoba or elsewhere. The most onerous post of all, that of minister of finance, was confided to Dr Vicente Lopez, who, though he was not of marked financial ability, was at least a man of untiring industry and of a personal integrity that was above suspicion. But the economic and financial situation was one of almost hopeless embarrassment and confusion, and Pellegrini proved himself incapable of grappling with it. Instead of facing the difficulties, the president preferred to put off the day of reckoning by flooding the country with inconvertible notes, with the result that the financial crisis became more and more aggravated. Through the rapid depreciation of Argentine credit, the great firm of Baring Brothers, the financial agents of the government in London, became so heavily involved that they were forced into liquidation, November 1890. The consequences of this catastrophe were felt far and wide, and in the spring of 1891 both the Banco Nacional and the Banco de la provincia de Buenos Aires were unable to meet their obligations. Amidst this sea of financial troubles the government drifted helplessly on, without showing any inclination or capacity to initiate a strong policy of reform in the methods of administration which had done so much to ruin the country.
It is little wonder that, in these circumstances, the choice of a successor to Pellegrini, whose term of office expired in 1892, should have been felt to possess peculiar importance. General Bartolomé Mitre was proposed by the porteños as their candidate. He had been absent from Argentina on a journey to Europe, and on his return in April 1891, a popular reception was given to him at which 50,000 persons attended. A petition was presented to him begging him to be a candidate for the presidency, and with some reluctance the veteran leader gave his consent. His partisans, however, found themselves confronted by a compact provincial party, who proposed to put forward the other strong man of the republic, General Roca, to oppose him. But the two generals were equally averse to a contest à outrance, which could only end in civil war. They met accordingly at a conference known as El Acuerdo, and it was arranged that both should withdraw, and that a non-party candidate should be selected who should receive the support of them both. The choice fell upon Dr Saenz Peña, a judge of the supreme court, and a man universally respected, who had never taken any part in political life. This compact aroused the bitter enmity of Dr Leandro Alem, who did his utmost to stir up the Union Civica to a campaign against the neutral candidate. Finding that the more conservative section of the union would not follow him, Alem formed a new association to which he gave the name of Union Civica Radical. Such was his energy, that soon a network of branches of the Union Civica Radical was organized throughout the republic, and Dr Bernardo Irigoyen was put forward as a rival candidate to Dr Saenz Peña. But Alem was not content with constitutional opposition to the Acuerdo, and his movement soon assumed the character of a revolutionary propaganda against the national government. His violence gave Pellegrini the opportunity of taking active steps to preserve the peace. In April 1892 Alem and his chief colleagues were arrested and sent into exile.
In the following month (May), the presidential elections were held; Dr Saenz Peña was declared duly elected, and Dr José Uriburu, the minister in Chile, was chosen as vice-president.
The idea of Dr Saenz Peña was to conduct the government on common sense and non-partisan lines, in fact to translate into practical politics the principles which underlay the compromise of the Acuerdo. He was a straightforward Saenz Peña president. and honourable man, who tried his best to do his duty in a position that had been forced upon him, and was in no sense of the word his own seeking. No sooner, however, was he installed in office than difficulties began to crop up on all sides, and he quickly discovered that to attempt to govern without the aid of a majority in congress was practically impossible. He had had no experience of political life, and he refused to create the support he needed by using his presidential prerogative to build up a political majority. Obstruction met his well-meant efforts to promote the general good, and before twelve months of the presidential term had run public affairs were at a deadlock. Dr Alem, who had been permitted to return from exile, was not slow to profit by the occasion. Embittered by his treatment in 1892, he openly preached the advisability of an armed rising to overthrow the existing administration. Public opinion had been outraged by the immunity with which the governors of certain provinces, and more particularly Dr Julio Costa, the governor of the province of Buenos Aires, had been allowed to maintain local forces, by the aid of which they exacted the payment of illegal taxes and exercised other acts of injustice and oppression. A number of officers of the army and navy agreed to lend assistance to a revolutionary outbreak, and towards the end of July 1893 matters came to a head. The population of Buenos Aires assembled in armed bodies with the avowed intention of ejecting the governor from office, and electing in his stead a man who would give them a just administration. The president was for some time in doubt whether he had any right to intervene in provincial affairs, but eventually troops were despatched to La Plata. There was no serious fighting. Negotiations were soon opened which quickly led to the resignation of Costa, and the return of the insurgents to their homes. While these disturbances were taking place in the province of Buenos Aires, another revolutionary rising was in progress in Santa Fé. Here the efforts of Dr Alem succeeded in supplying a large body of rebels with arms and ammunition, and he was able, by a bold attack, to seize the town of Rosario and there establish the revolutionary headquarters. This capture so alarmed the national government that a force was sent under the command of Roca to put down the insurrection. The revolt speedily collapsed before this redoubtable commander, and Alem and the other leaders surrendered. They were sentenced to banishment in Staten Island at the pleasure of the federal government.
But the suppression of disorder did not relieve the tension between the congress and the executive. During the whole of the 1894 session, the attitude of senators and deputies alike was one of pronounced hostility to the president. All his acts were opposed, legislation was at a standstill and every effort was made to force Dr Saenz Peña to resign. But although he experienced the utmost difficulty in forming a cabinet, the president was obstinate in his determination to retain office without identifying himself with any party. A definite issue was therefore sought by the congress on which to join battle, and it arose out of the death sentences which had been pronounced on certain naval and military officers who had been implicated in the Santa Fé outbreak. The president had made up his mind that the sentence must be carried out; the congress by a great majority were resolved not to permit the death penalty to be inflicted. It was a one-sided struggle, for without the consent of the congress the president could not raise any money for supplies, and congress refused to vote the budget. But heavy expenses had been incurred in putting down revolutionary movements in various parts of the provinces, and war with Chile was threatened upon the question of a dispute concerning the boundaries between the two republics. In January 1895 a special session of congress was summoned to take into consideration the financial proposals of the government, which included an increase in the naval and military estimates. Congress, however, had now got their opportunity, and they used the time of national stress to bring increased pressure to bear upon the president. On the 21st of January Dr Saenz Peña at last perceived that his position was untenable, and he handed in his resignation. It was accepted at once by the chambers, and the vice-president, Dr José Uriburu, became president of the republic for the three years and nine months of Peña’s term which remained unexpired.
Uriburu was neither a politician nor a statesman, but had spent the greater portion of his life abroad in the diplomatic service. His knowledge of foreign affairs was, however, peculiarly useful at a juncture when boundary questions Uriburu President. were the subjects that chiefly attracted public attention. After disputes with Brazil, extending over fifteen years, about the territory of “Misiones,” the matter had been submitted to the arbitration of the president of the United States. In March 1895 President Cleveland gave his decision, which was wholly favourable to the contention of Brazil. The Argentine government, though disappointed at the result, accepted the award loyally. The boundary dispute with Chile, to which reference has already been made, was of a more serious character. The dispute was of old standing. Already in 1884 a protocol had been signed between the contending parties, by which it was agreed that the frontier should follow the line where “the highest peaks of the Andine ranges divide the watershed.” This definition unfortunately ignored the fact that the Andes do not run from north to south in one continuous line, but are separated into cordilleras with valleys between them, and covering in their total breadth a considerable extent of country. Difference of opinion, therefore, arose as to the interpretation of the protocol, the Argentines insisting that the boundary should run from highest peak to highest peak, the Chileans that it should follow the highest points of the watershed. The quarrel at length became acute, and on both sides the populace clamoured from time to time for an appeal to arms, and the resources of both countries were squandered in military and naval preparations for a struggle. Nevertheless despite these obstacles, President Uriburu did something during his term of office to relieve the nation’s financial difficulties. In 1896 a bill was passed by congress, which authorized the state by the issue of national bonds to assume the provincial external indebtedness. This proof of the desire of the Argentine government to meet honestly all its obligations did much to restore its credit abroad. Uriburu found in 1897 the financial position so far improved that he was able to resume cash payments on the entire foreign debt.
In 1898 there was another presidential election. Public opinion, excited by the prospect of a war with Chile, naturally supported the candidature of General Roca, and he was elected without opposition (12th October 1898). Roca President. The first question which he had to handle was the Chilean boundary dispute. During the last months of President Uriburu’s administration, matters had reached a climax, especially in connexion with the delimitation in a district known as the Puña de Atacama. In August an ultimatum was received from Chile demanding arbitration. After some hesitation, on the advice of Roca the Argentines agreed to the demand, and peace was maintained. The principle of arbitration being accepted, the conditions were quickly arranged. The question of the Puña de Atacama was referred to a tribunal composed of the United States minister to Argentina and of one Argentine and one Chilean delegate; that of the southern frontier in Patagonia to the British crown. One of the first steps of President Roca, after his accession to office, was to arrange a meeting with the president of Chile at the Straits of Magellan. At their conference all difficulties were discussed and settled, and an undertaking was given on both sides to put a stop to warlike preparations. The decision of the representative of the United States was given in April 1899. Although the Chileans professed dissatisfaction, no active opposition was raised, and the terms were duly ratified. In his message to congress, on the 1st of May 1899, General Roca spoke strongly of the immediate necessity of a reform in the methods of administering justice, the expediency of a revision of the electoral law, and the imperative need of a reconstruction of the department of public instruction. The administration of justice, he declared, had fallen to so low an ebb as to be practically non-existent. By the powerful influence of the president, government measures were sanctioned by the legislature dealing with the abuses which had been condemned. On the 31st of August of the same year a series of proposals upon the currency question was submitted to congress by the president, whose real object was to counteract the too rapid appreciation of the inconvertible paper money. The official value of the dollar was fixed at 44 cents gold for all government purposes. The violent fluctuations in the value of the paper dollar, which caused so much damage to trade and industry, were thus checked. In October 1900 Dr Manuel Campos Salles, president of Brazil, paid a visit to Buenos Aires, and was received with great demonstrations of friendliness. The aggressive attitude of Chile towards Bolivia was causing considerable anxiety, and Argentina and Brazil wished to show that they were united in opposing a policy which aimed at acquiring an extension of territory by force of arms. The feeling of enmity between Chile and Argentina was indeed anything but extinct. The delay of the arbitration tribunal in London in giving its decision in the matter of the disputed boundary in Patagonia led to a crop of wild rumours being disseminated, and to a revival of animosity between the two peoples. In December 1901 warlike preparations were being carried on in both states, and the outbreak of active hostilities appeared to be imminent. At the critical moment the British government, urged to move in the matter by the British residents in both countries, who feared that war would mean the financial ruin of both Chile and Argentina, used its utmost influence both at Santiago and Buenos Aires to allay the misunderstandings; and negotiations were set on foot which ended in a treaty for the cessation of further armaments being signed, June 1902. The award of King Edward VII. upon the delimitation of the boundary was given a few months later, and was received without controversy and ratified by both governments.
To the calm resourcefulness and level-headedness of President Roca at a very difficult and critical juncture must be largely ascribed the preservation of peace, and the permanent removal of a dispute that had aroused so much irritation. His term Quintana and Alcorta Presidents. of office came to an end in 1904, when Dr Manuel Quintana was elected president and Dr José Figueroa Alcorta vice-president, both having Roca’s support. Dr Quintana at the time of his election was sixty-four years of age. He proved a hard-working progressive president, who did much for the development of communications and the opening up of the interior of the country. He died amidst general regret in March 1906, and was succeeded by Dr Alcorta for the remaining years of his term. (G. E.)
- For the geology of Argentina, see Stelzner, Beiträge zur geologie der argentinischen Republik (Cassel and Berlin, 1885); Brackebusch, Mapa geológico del Interiore de la República Argentina (Gotha, 1892); Valentin, Bosquejo geólogico de la Argentina (Buenos Aires, 1897); Hauthal, “Beiträge zur Geologie der argentinischen Provinz Buenos Aires,” Peterm. Mitt. vol. 1., 1904, pp. 83-92, 112-117, pl. vi.
- Interesting details of the Argentine fauna may be found in Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle; W. H. Hudson’s Idle Days in Patagonia, and Naturalist in the La Plata; G. Pelleschi’s Eight Months on the Gran Chaco; R. Napp’s Argentine Republic; and de Moussy’s Confédération argentine.
- There are two distinct statistical offices compiling immigration returns and their totals do not agree, owing in part to the traffic between Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Another report gives the arrivals in 1904 as 125,567 and the departures 38,923. Of the arrivals 67,598 were Italians and 39,851 Spaniards. The total for the years 1859-1904 was 3,166,073 and the departures 1,239,064, showing a net gain of 1,927,009.