First Governing Board

The First Governing Board, officially the Provisional Governing Board of the Provinces of the Rio de la Plata in the name of the Lord Don Fernando VII, was the Governing Board that emerged on Friday, May 25, 1810 in Buenos Aires, capital of the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Silver, as a result of the triumph of the May Revolution that dismissed the Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros and appointed Cornelio Saavedra as the President of the First Board of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. The seat of the government was fixed in the Fort of Buenos Aires, that served from 1776 like residence of the viceroys and where today is the House of Government. The First Board existed as such until December 18 of the same year, as with the incorporation of interior deputies it became the Junta Grande, which gave rise to the prolonged War of Independence of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata against Spain (1810-1824).

During the war of independence, there was also a complex dispute over the form of organization of the new State, which generated in 1814 the beginning of a civil war that -with intermittences- would last more than half a century. The leader of the federal fraction, the oriental José Gervasio Artigas was proclaimed Protector of the Union of the Free Peoples, a league of provinces that refused to be administered by the unitary government of Buenos Aires. It organized the so-called Congress of the East in Concepción del Uruguay, of which it is still debated whether it managed to proclaim -as it was proposed- the independence of Spain.

On July 9, 1816, in the city of San Miguel de Tucumán, the congress of deputies from the provinces of the northwest and center-west of the country and of Buenos Aires gathered, together with some deputies exiled from Upper Peru, proclaimed the independence of the United Provinces in South America, using the following formula:

recover the rights that were stripped, and invest in the high character of a free and independent nation of King Ferdinand VII, his successors and metropolis.

In several points of South America, the new governments had to face the counterrevolutionary resistance of the realistic armies, that tried to restore the authority of the Spanish monarchy in the region. The wars for independence began. Some of the main commanders were Manuel Belgrano, commander of the Army of the North, José de San Martín, creator of the Army of the Andes, Martín Miguel de Güemes, organizer of the gaucho war and Juana Azurduy, commander of the guerrilla war in the Alto Peru. The Argentine State considers San Martin as the greatest military hero of its independence and honors it with the title of “Father of the Nation”. Together with Simón Bolívar, they were the ones most responsible for the libertarian deeds that ended with the Spanish presence on the continent.

The formation of the federal State

The first decades as an independent country were conflicting: before the hegemony of the Unitarians, the Federals rose repeatedly in defense of the autonomy of the provinces, leading – after the so-called Anarchy of the Year XX – to the division of the country into autonomous provinces governed generally by military caudillos, while the country -except a brief interval between 1825 and 1827- lacked a national government until 1852. Each province assumed the fullness of the government within its territory.

The war of independence continued until 1825, but was fought preferably on the northern border and in Peru. Meanwhile, the Eastern Province was invaded by the kingdom of Portugal, from which it passed to the Empire of Brazil. The consequent War of Brazil culminated with the Preliminary Peace Convention of 1828, which declared the disputed territory independent, with the name of the Oriental State of Uruguay, and shortly before, in 1825, Upper Peru formed the Republic of Bolivia, and the following year the city of Tarija and its jurisdiction was added.

The remaining territory – which had managed to increase somewhat its territory with some territories taken from the indigenous – began to use the name of Argentina in the mid-1820s.

Justo José de Urquiza, federal leader of Entre Ríos, first president of Argentina after the sanction of the Constitution.

At the beginning of the 1830s, the federals managed to triumph throughout the country, which adopted the name of the Argentine Confederation. For more than twenty years, the federal governor of Buenos Aires, Juan Manuel de Rosas, assumed in the facts the highest national authority, although in theory was only the depository of the external representation of the whole of the provinces. During the epoch of its hegemony it fought and it defeated successive uprisings of the unitarians, a blockade of the River of the Silver on the part of France and soon another blockade joint on the part of Great Britain and France. He also maintained wars against the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, and against the so-called Government of the Defense of Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital, due to the interference of the two parties of that country – white and red – in the Argentine civil wars.

Despite the peace he was able to impose and economic growth -at least in the provinces of the Litoral-, Rosas’ enemies demanded individual, political and expression freedoms, which were ironically annulled by the Buenos Aires governor; the core of their claims was the sanction of a political constitution that formally organized the national state and guaranteed the rights of citizens.