Juan Bautista Alberdi: biography of the father of the Argentine Constitution.
A summary of the life of Juan Bautista Alberdi, a key figure in the history of Argentina.
Alberdi is one of the most outstanding figures of the Spanish-American branch of liberalism that lived in the 19th century.
We will try to go deeper into the life of this author by means of a biography of Bautista AlberdiIn it, we will know the episodes that marked his life, which have been his most important contributions in the different fields worked and therefore which have been the repercussions that he has generated.
Brief biography of Bautista Alberdi
Juan Bautista Alberdi was born in 1810 in the Argentine province of San Miguel de Tucumán.. His origins were Spanish, since his father, Salvador Alberdi, was a merchant from Guipúzcoa, in the Basque Country. Salvador owned a prosperous pulpería, a typical food establishment. In addition, he also had political relevance in the conflict between Argentina and England, as he was one of those in charge of defending the capital.
As for his mother, Josefa Aráoz, she was of Creole origin, a member of one of the most important families in the city of Tucumán. Unfortunately, Josefa died while giving birth to Juan Bautista Alberdi, so he grew up motherless. Alberdi's family took an active part during the May Revolution of 1810, a political event that lit the fuse for the future independence of Argentina, until then dependent on Spain.
Juan Bautista Alberdi's father died when he was only 11 years old. Already orphaned of father and mother, Juan was left under the guardianship of the rest of his siblings.. Alberdi thus began a new stage in his life, this time in the city of Buenos Aires, where he moved to continue his education. He entered the institution of the Colegio de Ciencias Morales thanks to a government grant.
After a few unstable years of abandonment and a return to the academic world, Juan Bautista Alberdi enrolled, first at the University of Buenos Aires, then at the University of Cordoba and finally at the University of Montevideo (Uruguay), to study jurisprudence, a discipline in which he would later attain the highest level of education.He studied jurisprudence, a discipline in which he would later attain a doctorate degree in Chile.
He combined his academic training with musical training, as he was a lover of this art and mastered different instruments, such as the piano, the flute or the guitar. In fact, the first work that Juan Bautista Alberdi wrote dealt with nothing less than this subject. It was entitled The Spirit of Music.
Back to San Miguel de Tucumán, he worked together with Alejandro Heredia, governor of the region, preparing a work entitled Memoria descriptiva de Tucumán.
Youth and Generation of '37
After his stay in Tucumán, Juan Bautista Alberdi decided to set out again to the Argentine capital.. The year was 1835. During this time, the writer Marcos Sastre had founded the Literary Salon, a series of meetings where the authors of the so-called Generation of '37 could chat and share their different points of view on different topics. Alberdi was one of the members.
The Generation of '37 promoted democratic and liberal ideas.. They decided to give continuity to the movement that had preceded them in the May Revolution. This group advocated an intermediate solution that would satisfy those who advocated the construction of a unitary nation but also those who preferred a federalist model. Alberdi studied the political situation in depth in order to prepare his doctoral thesis.
This research led to the elaboration of his work, Fragmento preliminar al estudio del derecho (Preliminary Fragment to the Study of Law). In it he explored different ways to try to solve the problems in which Argentina was immersed in these turbulent years. With it he laid the foundations of the legal historicism of this country.
It was the year 1837, a prolific year in which he also undertook a new a prolific year in which he also undertook the new project of creating a newspaper, which he baptized La Modawhere he dealt precisely with that subject, especially talking about the most important currents that existed on the European continent in those years. He also dealt with other arts, such as literature and music. Juan Bautista Alberdi himself used the pseudonym Figarillo to write in this publication.
However, La Moda had a short life. Only twenty-three issues later, this publication was forced to close.
Years in exile
During these years, the province of Buenos Aires was governed by Juan Manuel de Rosas, of whom Juan Bautista Alberdi was a staunch opponent. Alberdi refused to swear allegiance to this institution, which started a political persecution both towards him and the members of the Literary Salon, which had to be dissolved. A new association, called La joven Argentina, was secretly created and its leader was Alberdi himself..
But the situation was dangerous and many of them decided to leave Argentina. In the case of Juan Bautista Alberdi, his destination was Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. It was a dramatic event, since by this time, he already had a partner and a young son, and had to separate from them. He never became a father.
He had the opportunity to spread his ideas in Uruguay, where they received great acceptance. He also had the opportunity to work, both as a lawyer, given his training, and as a journalist, a profession in which he also had previous experience. It was also the time when he published two different plays. The first was entitled La Revolución de Mayo, while the second was called El gigante Amapolas.
Also He also resided for a time in Chile, where he became a renowned lawyer and where he also managed to complete his doctoral thesis to earn the highest degree in the field. to earn the highest degree in this discipline. This work was called "On the Convenience and Objects of a General American Congress". In this work he already advanced the idea of the creation of a supranational body that would pool the interests of the Spanish-American regions.
He also spent some time in Europe, specifically in Paris, studying the work of Montesquieu, which was the seed for the creation of the constitutions of the flourishing countries of the American continent. He studied in particular the model of the constitution of the USA, studying ideas for a future constitution for Argentina.
Fall of Rosas and independence of Argentina
In 1852 the Battle of Caseros took place, where the Great Army, made up of different Argentine provinces, neighboring countries and exiles, defeated the forces of the Argentine Confederation, a movement to which Governor Rosas belonged. This meant the return of those people who had previously had to flee the region, as was the case of Juan Bautista Alberdi, who had been forced to flee the region..
The study of other charters gave Alberdi the ability to face the most important task of his life: to prepare the ground for the new constitution that an independent Argentina would have to have. He published a first approach to this question, called Bases and starting points for the political organization of the Argentine Republic.
The following year he would publish a new treatise as an extension of the previous one, entitled "Elementos de derecho público provincial argentino" (Elements of Argentine provincial public law). One of the key points that Juan Bautista Alberdi established as the basis for these documents was the liberal slant that he appreciated both in his own country and in Argentina. the liberal slant that was appreciated in both economic and political issues..
Another work he wrote along these lines was the Sistema económico y rentístico de la Confederación Argentina. Finally, in 1853, the relevant authorities met in Santa Fe and sanctioned the new Constitution for the emerging country, using the documents that Juan Bautista Alberdi had prepared for that purpose, so he can be considered as the father of the Argentine Constitution.
Diplomatic career and final years
After these events, Juan Bautista Alberdi was elected as a member of the diplomatic corps, for which he moved to Europe, with the aim of achieving international recognition of Argentina as a sovereign country, before it was achieved by the supporters of the creation of the State of Buenos Aires, which sought the independence of that region.
Juan Bautista Alberdi achieved this purpose and the Argentine Republic became a reality.. In 1878, he returned to his homeland, Tucumán, where he was elected as a deputy. This position lasted two years, when it was removed due to a conflict between two sectors that fought for the establishment of the capital, which finally fell on the side of Buenos Aires. The deputies who did not support this movement were removed from office.
In the year 1880, Juan Bautista Alberdi was named doctor honoris causa by the University of Buenos Aires, specifically from the Faculty of Law.. By then his health was already very fragile, so he could not participate in the speeches. One of the students read his text for him. It was entitled, The omnipotence of the State is the negation of individual freedom.
A final conflict with President Bartolomé Mitre, who opposed the publication of his complete works, caused Juan Bautista Alberdi to emigrate to Paris, in France, where he died in 1884.
- Adelman, J. (2007). Between order and liberty: Juan Bautista Alberdi and the intellectual origins of Argentine constitutionalism. Latin American research review.
- Pozas, M.A. (2006). El liberalismo hispanoamericano en el siglo XIX. Realidad.
- Sanguinetti, H. (2014). Alberdi: Revisión Crítica. Buenos Aires: National Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.