During the period of turmoil developing out of the English invasions of Argentina in 1806 and 1807 and the French invasion of Spain in 1808, several prominent personages arose to take over the reins of colonial government in Buenos Aires. One of the most important and certainly the most brilliant of these was Mariano Moreno, a student of the Enlightenment and an almost fanatical proponent of the secular aspects of this widespread philosophy. An understanding of this brilliant Argentine is essential to an understanding of the legal and constitutional battle following the invasions of 1806, 1807, and 1808 and the May Revolution of 1810. It was this revolution that brought Moreno to the forefront of Argentine history when he was only thirty-one years old.

Mariano Moreno was born on September 23, 1778, the eldest son of Don Manuel Moreno Argumosa and Doña Ana María Valle de Moreno of Buenos Aires.1 Don Manuel was a Peninsular, a native of the Spanish province of Santander. He came to America to seek his fortune, with the idea of going to Peru, but was shipwrecked in Tierra del Fuego, rescued, and taken to Buenos Aires. There he gained employment in the Cajas Reales as a subordinate to the Treasurer, Don Antonio Valle, and married Don Antonio’s daughter Ana María. The Morenos had fourteen children, eight of whom had survived.2

According to his brother Manuel, Mariano showed great qualities in his childhood. Manuel characterizes him as active, enthusiastic, and shrewd. He had a remarkable memory and could recite entire poems and excerpts from prose works at an early age. Mariano Moreno was always independent by nature and had a persistent spirit. His brother suggests a wise sensibility as “the most distinctive of all the elements of his character, and that particularly distinguished him in all the occurrences of his life.”3 Although he was not slight in build, he did suffer from frequent illnesses, among which were an attack of smallpox in his youth and attacks of rheumatism during the prime of his life.4

The kind of education that Buenos Aires could offer a brilliant child like Mariano Moreno was poor, but this was remedied by his love for books and reading. He received his primary education at the Escuela del Rey and at twelve went to the Colegio de San Carlos, both in Buenos Aires. Mariano was a capable student in philosophy and theology, but he excelled in Latin, which he could speak and write as well as Spanish.5 He widened his knowledge by reading the books in the family library and those borrowed from friends. His brightness and talent won the friendship of learned men in Buenos Aires with whom he could converse and thereby broaden his education still further.6

After he finished his eight-year study at San Carlos, his parents decided that he should continue his education and enter the priesthood, but there was a financial problem. Since his parents could not afford the cost of his higher education, a year was spent in indecision.7 Fortunately for Moreno, a priest by the name of Felipe Antonio de Iriarte offered to contribute financially in order to solve the problem. The priest had been impressed by Moreno when the latter was at the Colegio de San Carlos, and thought that such a bright young man should not be denied the opportunity to complete his schooling. The priest’s offer was accepted and he made all the arrangements for Mariano to attend the University of San Francisco Xavier at Chuquisaca. Iriarte further shaped Mariano’s future when he introduced him to Don Matías Terrazas at Chuquisaca.8

In November, 1799, less than two months after his twenty-first birthday, Mariano Moreno left Buenos Aires for Chuquisaca, arriving there after a short bout with rheumatism along the way.9 Although Moreno began his studies in preparation for the priesthood, it was not long before he decided to study law instead. This decision alarmed his parents. Later, when Mariano planned to get married, his parents objected, hoping that he would still become a priest.10 Their hopes were vain, as Mariano had already made up his mind. He married, continued his law education, passed the examination, and became a lawyer on February 24, 1804.11

At Chuquisaca, Moreno’s sponsors were members of the clergy with an interest in law and political liberty, and with liberal views on those subjects. His companions also were influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment and some of these friends were later to play roles in the May Revolution and still later in the Congress of Tucumán in 1816. When he first arrived at the University, “he came under the tutelage of the canon, Don Matías Terrazas, whose private library abounded in books listed in the Expurgato.”12 Don Matías allowed Moreno to stay in his home free of charge, and the two became close friends. Mariano was allowed to use the canon’s library, and it was there that he gained his most enlightened education.13 The library was a considerable one, consisting largely of books on religion, science, and literature, but also containing many Inquisition-condemned books on philosophy and politics.14 Among the works Moreno found and read were those of Montesquieu, D’Agueseau, and Raynal.15

As will be seen in his writings, Moreno accepted most of the ideas of the Enlightenment, except those on religion. He was a devout Catholic and remained so the rest of his life. In 1810, when he published a Spanish translation of Rousseau’s Social Contract, he omitted Rousseau’s comments on religion and stated in his prologue that Rousseau “had the misfortune of speaking foolishly on religious matters.”16

Another influence in Moreno’s life was Victorián de Villava, whom he evidently had met at Chuquisaca. Villava was an opponent of the mita and a proponent of liberty and equality for the Indian population of America. In his Discurso sobre la Mita de Potosí, he argued that forcing the Indian to work in the mines was illegal, but even if it were legal it would not be right. He argued further that the belief that the Indian was indolent and had to be subjected to force labor was false, but even if it were true, the Indian should not be forced to work in the mines.17

Moreno, influenced by the idea of equality, accepted the thesis of Villava on the mita. He was impressed by the social injustice that existed toward the Indian, especially after he went to the mining regions to see the mita in operation with his own eyes. In 1802 Moreno wrote his Disertación jurídica sobre el servicio de los indios en general y sobre el particular de Yanaconas y Mitayos in defense of Villava and his ideas. Seven years later Moreno gave Villava’s economic opinions a paragraph in his Representación de los hacendados.18

After an active intellectual and political life during his school years and during his short practice of law in Alto Peru, Moreno returned to Buenos Aires. He arrived in September, 1805, with his wife and eight months old son, Mariano, and set up a law practice there. Moreno’s talents were promptly recognized by the authorities of Buenos Aires. On November 20, 1805, he successfully argued his first case before the audiencia. Shortly after his second ease before the Audiencia, he was placed in charge of the duties of relator of that body. He also held the position of law adviser to the cabildo. His public service lasted until the eve of the May Revolution of 1810, and gained him renown and experience as a man of authority in the city.19

Although Moreno took part in public service in Buenos Aires, he was primarily busy with his successful law practice and his family, whereas he had been in the middle of the fight against injustice in Alto Peru. This change has been puzzling to students of the man, although reasons for this difference have been suggested.20 It is more likely that Moreno, returning to Buenos Aires as a father of a small child, was simply more interested in providing for his family than entering into the arguments or fights of the period from 1805 through 1808. This possibility is further strengthened when it is noted that Mariano’s father died on December 20, 1805, soon after the young lawyer arrived in Buenos Aires. Not only did Mariano have a wife and child to support, but he had a mother, brothers, and sisters to provide for. Yet he probably kept up his acquaintance with and expanded his knowledge of the ideas of the Enlightenment in Buenos Aires, where such authors as Rousseau and Adam Smith were read and discussed without much legal limitation,21

In 1809 Moreno’s activities widened considerably because of two events. The first was the attempted coup d’état by Martín de Alzaga in January. Moreno, though a Creole, supported the Peninsulares in this action, and voted for the overthrow of Liniers because of his own position in the audiencia, his friendship with Alzaga, and his strong dislike of Liniers.22 The second event was the formation of a decree on foreign trade during Viceroy Cisneros’ ten months in office. Moreno made his contribution by writing an exposition of the commercial views of the landholders and their laborers.

The question of a decree on foreign commerce came up after the government had returned to monopolistic ideas and prohibited trade with the British. This reversal caused a depression among farmers and merchants because there was no other outlet for the agricultural products, for Spain was in turmoil and the British controlled the sea. The colonial government was also damaged, since the lack of substantial legal trade kept tariff revenues low. Liniers was planning to open Buenos Aires to British commerce and thereby increase governmental revenues when Viceroy Cisneros arrived from Spain.23

Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros recognized the existing problem and determined to find a solution. Various colonial groups were eager to put forth their views. The Peninsular merchants wanted the Spanish monopoly upheld and their desires were reflected in the statement of the cabildo that trade with the British was “evil.” Although labeling such trade “evil,” the cabildo members agreed that it was necessary to reinstate it in order to avoid worse problems.24 The landowners on both banks of the Río de la Plata decided that their views should be heard, and secretly asked Dr. Mariano Moreno to write the paper, which was then signed by José de la Rosa, guild representative.25 The paper was entitled La representación, en nombre de los labradores y hacendados de las campañas del Río de la Plata, and was dated November 6, 1809.26 Kirkpatrick terms the document “an eloquent and powerful plea for opening the port to British trade, not as a temporary financial expedient but as a necessity to economic well-being and particularly to pastoral and agricultural progress, which demanded free export.”27

Moreno’s Representación promoted the well-being of a single class of citizens—the agricultural class. The fact that he represented this class so vigorously is possibly due to a belief that the prosperity of the agriculture of a country is the supporting column of the general prosperity of that country, a view of certain European philosophers. Vicente F. López asserted that Moreno had used the writings of Campillo to formulate his paper, and Campillo was a follower of the Frenchman, Quesnay, a political economist who believed that the basis for a country’s prosperity was its agriculture.28

At the time, Moreno’s part in the representation of the landowners was known only to a few, and having resigned his public offices a few months earlier, he lived in the obscurity of private life. Soon, however, he was caught up in the May Revolution and deposited in the middle of the stage of Argentine history.

The news of the fall of the Central Junta in Spain arrived in Buenos Aires in May of 1810 and triggered a revolution which replaced Cisneros with a popular junta. At the cabildo abierto of May 22, 1810, Moreno voted for the ousting of Cisneros and his replacement by a junta to be established by the cabildo. This was the plan which also stated that the authority for the cabildo’s action would come from the people.29 The cabildo selected a junta headed by Cisneros, but it proved unacceptable to the revolutionaries, who put pressure upon the reluctant cabildo; finally a popular junta was established. Cornelio de Saavedra headed the Junta of May 25, which included Dr. Juan José Castelli, Manuel Belgrano, Miguel de Azcuénaga, Dr. Manuel de Alberti, Domingo Matheu, and Juan Larrea, who was the youngest, at twenty-seven years of age. Dr. Juan José Paso and Mariano Moreno were selected as secretaries and were given the right to vote in the meetings of the junta.

When Moreno was offered the post as one of the two secretaries, he hesitated but accepted. At this time he made a statement which shows his concept of the road ahead. He said that it was

necessary to destroy the abuses of the administration; to display an activity which has not been known until now; to promote the remedy of the illnesses that afflict the State; to stimulate and direct the public spirit; to educate the people; to destroy their enemies, and to give a new life to the Provinces. . . . It is necessary to undertake a new course which is far from being easy and which must be followed admidst the obstacles of despotism, venality, and the preoccupations which have prevented the progress of this Continent for centuries. After the new government has escaped the attacks to which it will be exposed simply because it is new, it will have to encounter attacks due to the passions, interests, and inconstancy of those persons who now encourage reform. A just man who is at the head of the government will become at such a time the victim of ignorance and jealousy. The society which I have enjoyed until now in the midst of my family and my books will be interrupted. But none of this is capable of hindering me if it is certain that the general will calls me to take a part in the direction of its cause. If I am needed, I cannot deny to my country the sacrifice of my individual tranquility, my profession, my fortune, and even my life.30

Moreno played a dual role in the junta as secretary and as editor of the semi-official junta newspaper. In his position as secretary, he controlled political and military affairs. He was responsible for preparing troops for the expeditionary forces to Paraguay and the northern provinces. His political tasks included reorganizing the audiencia on June 22, 1810, and the cabildo four months later. Moreno also concerned himself with educational and commercial matters.31 His role as editor of the Gazeta de Buenos-Ayres not only furthered the objectives of the junta but it established him as the leading promoter of the ideas of the Enlightenment in Buenos Aires.

The only newspaper in Buenos Aires when Moreno assumed his second role as editor was El Correo de Comercio, an economic journal edited by Belgrano. Moreno thought that a second newspaper was necessary and the junta agreed.32 In the decree establishing the new periodical, Moreno reasoned that an informed public was needed to preserve tranquility while the junta looked after their interests. Since the public must know the actions of the junta, a newspaper was necessary to provide this information. Furthermore, a newspaper was needed to sway public opinion in Buenos Aires and in the interior in favor of the junta.33

The new newspaper, the Gazeta de Buenos-Ayres, was used to gain support for the junta at two important junctures during its first four months of existence. A conflict between the deposed Viceroy Cisneros and his supporters and the junta created the latter’s first need of the assurance of public support. After their defeat of May 25, the viceregal party, including members of the audiencia and the cabildo, had banded together to await an opportunity to assert themselves. They expected support from the deputies from the conservative interior when these deputies arrived in Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, these critics of the junta gathered at Cisnero’s house to protest against that body and to await their chance to re-establish the viceroy as head of the government in the place of the junta.34 The junta did not wait for this to happen; instead, it exiled Cisneros and several members of the audiencia.

In a manifesto published in the Gazeta, on June 23, the junta appealed for public support and accused Cisneros and the audiencia of failing to honor the oath they had taken to uphold the junta. Moreno, who wrote the manifesto, stated that everybody except Cisneros and his friends were loyal to the junta. He emphasized that the junta was only following the example set in Spain when it assumed the management of the viceroyalty. The correspondence between the junta and the audiencia since May 27 was exploited to build up the ease against the exiled officials. The junta had taken the offensive in this correspondence, stating that it feared trouble from the audiencia. The audiencia was never able to refute the charges made by the junta in this exchange, and the junta had the last word when the viceroy and oidores were exiled.35

The second request for public support was initiated in answer to an external threat. The Marqués de Casa Irujo, the Spanish minister to the Brazilian court’s Central Council, wrote a proclamation to the people of the Plata region expressing concern over the institution of the junta in Buenos Aires. This proclamation was disseminated in the provinces. A rebuttal was necessary, and so Moreno wrote one for the July 19 issue of the Gazeta. He stated that the Marqués wished to restore Cisneros to power. He appealed to the people’s pride by claiming that the Marqués would resort to force, and if he succeeded the people would lose their hard-earned glory. He stated that the Marqués was meddling in their internal affairs where he had no legal authority. He warned the people to beware of the incitement to civil war promoted by this proclamation from Brazil.36

Important as this support of the junta was, Moreno was more interested in spreading Enlightenment. Being a man of action as well as a man of letters, he helped found the public library on September 7,1810,37 then wrote an editorial on the necessity of having such a library. Under the heading of “Education,” he began by telling his fellow citizens that their military glory of the past four years had come at a high price, not only in terms of blood but in a loss of culture. He complained that the Colegio de San Carlos was being used to quarter troops and that the youths of Buenos Aires were interested in becoming soldiers before they became men. The education of young men was being ignored, but he assured his readers that the junta was determined to educate all. For this purpose a public library had been founded, where the citizens of Buenos Aires would have the opportunity to improve their minds. Moreno reminded his readers that since Alexandria all the great civilizations possessed great libraries. Terming libraries “the major aid to the enlightenment of our century,” he called for a subscription of funds to aid the library.38 Moreno had gained the most enlightened part of his education through books, so it was natural for him to emphasize the value of libraries.

A portion of the Gazeta for 1810 was devoted to economic enlightenment. Moreno made two contributions to it. The first was on the problem of smuggling, which began when Spanish authorities had denied access to trade between their colonies and Great Britain. Even after the right to trade was granted, smuggling continued, with the resultant depletion of tariff revenues for the government.39 In an editorial published on July 12, 1810, Moreno assailed smuggling and emphasized the need for legitimate trade, stating that the junta was determined to prevent the harm to the state occasioned by smuggling. He welcomed the honest English merchant, but the smuggler was not welcomed and would be punished.40

The second contribution was in the matter of developing ports in order to facilitate trade. In an editorial and two junta decrees signed by Moreno, the repairs and development of the ports of Maldonado and Ensenada were promoted.41

Mariano Moreno expressed his political ideas in a series entitled “The Spanish Patriot,” throughout which the influence of the various centers of enlightened thought can be seen. These centers were the Anglo, the French, and the Spanish. The English and Anglo-American thinkers and statesmen had a comparatively small effect on Moreno directly, but the influence of the former did reach the Argentine through Montesquieu and others. Moreno became familiar with the works of Montesquieu and Rousseau, and used them as a basis for much of his writings. These writers also were influential on the thought and beliefs of Spanish writers, who in turn influenced Moreno. Not only did the Spaniards embrace new ideas, but they also acquired an outlook which they were able to apply to their own constitutional history. National pride prompted these writers to exalt their own “enlightenment” in the medieval period more than the ideas that they had borrowed from England or France. The same was true of Moreno and his readers. It would be logical for Moreno to use Spanish history as far as possible. Also, he would want to play down French influence because of the hatred felt toward the French for their usurpation in Spain.

Moreno commenced his series by discussing the history of the Spanish monarchy starting with the medieval constitution at its apex under Fernando and Isabel. He continued following Spain’s decline under the Austrian and French houses down to Manuel Godoy. It is clear that Moreno based this section on the works of Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos. In his prelude to the series, he stated that it was reputed to be an excerpt from the writings of “the wise Spaniard” Jovellanos, when in fact it was Moreno’s own work, the first part of which was based on Jovellanos’ Discursos read before the Real Academia de la Historia.42

Jovellanos was one of the leaders in formulating a new interpretation of Spanish history. The new historical interpretation was a reassessment of the past sparked by the ideas of the Enlightenment. Jovellanos became interested in the constitutional history of Spain and, especially, in the medieval constitution. He and others saw the Spanish constitution of the Middle Ages as based on inviolable law and with a division of power with a king as ruler, nobles as advisers, and a people represented in the cortes. Although he thought highly of this system, Jovellanos recognized its weaknesses. The people were depressed and largely at the mercy of the powerful lords of the medieval structure. They were in the minority in the cortes, which was controlled by nobles and ecclesiastics. Despite this Jovellanos believed that Spain was in her glory under this constitution, and that after the deaths of the Catholic monarchs there was a continuous decline. His historical interpretation placed the blame for the decline on the destruction of the medieval constitution.43

Moreno agreed with Jovellanos and his followers in placing the apex of Spain’s greatness under Fernando and Isabel, who, he stated, worked for the prosperity of the people of Spain. Their successors, the Spanish Hapsburgs, had lost their prosperity. When the Hapsburg kings came into control of Spain they destroyed the ancient constitution and brought oppression in its stead. Moreno complained that during these years Spain, with the richest potential of any country in Europe, became the weakest nation of all. This decline was continued under the Bourbons, with a brief respite under Carlos III, but it was Godoy who brought final ruin to Spain.44

Two instalments of “The Spanish Patriot” were devoted to attacks on Godoy and on Joseph Bonaparte. Moreno wrote that Godoy’s ambition led Spain into a position which allowed Napoleon to send his troops into the country and impose his brother Joseph upon the Spanish people. He stated that Joseph Bonaparte stole all the gold and valuables that he could get his hands on, in spite of the fact that Joseph’s own constitution for Spain stipulated that the public wealth of Spain would be inviolate.45

In a discussion of the usurpation of the Spanish throne Moreno demonstrated his belief in popular sovereignty. He stated that the people were forced to receive a foreign king against their will and a constitution upon which they had not agreed. In addition, they were not allowed the right to advisory representation.46 It would follow that although these rights had been dormant under the authoritarian regimes of the kings of Spain, they existed as an inalienable law.

Moreno stated that even though there was no legitimate government in Spain, nothing was changed because the people were unified by a social pact.47 This corresponded to the “social compact” of Jean Jacques Rousseau which, according to him, gave the political unit its existence.48 Moreno’s familiarity with the Swiss philosopher is certain, for he wrote a prologue to a Spanish translation of The Social Contract and published the book during the year 1810.49

Moreno believed that the loss of its government could not disrupt the nation. The people created the monarchy and could create another, because sovereignty “always resides in the people.”50 Until they restored authority in an individual there was no monarch. Joseph could not exist as king since he did not have the consent of the majority of the people. Fernando VII, who, as a consequence of being a captive in a foreign country, could not delegate authority to Joseph.51 This line of thought explains the junta’s decision that the Consejo de Regencia had no authority in the Spanish dominions, since it had none before Fernando was made a captive, it could not receive any authority from Fernando, and it had not received any from the people. In its decree the junta emphasized that it could not recognize any Spanish government that was not legitimately established.52

The articles continued into August, when Moreno called for the formation of a representative legislature for the Spanish dominions. The people would elect representatives to a cortes, entrusting in it the authority of the social compact. The legislature would then draw up a constitution which would protect the rights of the people and determine those of the nation. The representation in this cortes could not follow that of the old cortes, because the latter did not represent all of the people equally. He calculated that the population of Spain and the Americas were almost equal with the total being about 22 millions, and he suggested that each 30,000 population should have one representative. This would make a total of 733 representatives, a majority of which would be 367. This should be enough to represent everybody, wrote Moreno, and a legislative body of at least this size would be needed in order to lessen the possibility of its becoming corrupt.53

Next, it would be necessary to formulate regulations for electing representatives. According to Moreno’s system the qualifications for voters were that they should be Spanish, at least twenty-seven years of age, and be well enough educated to be able to vote wisely. Being Spanish would include Peninsulares and Creoles, but it is not clear whether this would be exclusive of others. Since the mestizo population was small in the Plata, it is evident that Moreno did not worry about making a distinction in this matter. The Negroes and Indians would not have the necessary education, so they would be excluded by the educational requirement. Moreno probably picked twenty-seven years as the age limit since to make it any higher would have excluded junta member Juan Larrea from voting, and this would have been a reflection on both Larrea and the junta. Moreno also suggested that capital cities like Buenos Aires should have numerical representation weighted in their favor because they contained more intelligent people, and thus a larger proportion of people who would be able to vote, than outlying areas.54

Voting would be indirect according to Moreno’s plan. The qualified voters in each district would gather and vote for election commissioners. These commissioners were to be numerically the same as in the elections of síndicos and diputados del común. As in provincial elections, the election commissioners would vote for the representatives, using as many ballots as were necessary to elect the required number of representatives for that area. When a candidate for the position received a majority of the votes on any particular ballot, he would then become one of the representatives. Other ballots would be taken, and every time a candidate received a majority of the votes he would become one of the representatives. This balloting would continue until the required number of representatives were elected. In order to avoid any chance of fraud, the voting was to be public. Moreno stressed that the prerequisites for picking representatives would be such as to insure the best future for the nation, the people, and the king.55

Moreno advocated a division of powers as had Locke and Montesquieu.56 In fact, the latter, an admirer of the English system of government, wrote his suggestions in a factual language made for such would-be creators of constitutions as Moreno.57 It is certain that Moreno was familiar with Montesquieu for he quoted the philosopher in his writings. Montesquieu divided his government into three powers: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. The legislative power was in charge of things that depend “on the law of nations; and the executive in regards to matters that depend on the civil law.”58 The third power, or the judicial, although independent, was not on an equal level with the first two.59 Moreno agreed with Montesquieu’s three powers, placing the legislative power in charge of making and changing laws, and the executive power in charge of administering the civil law made by the legislature. According to Moreno, the legislature was limited only by the laws of nature. Like Montesquieu he placed the judicial power on an independent but unequal footing. Interested in the problem of authority, which was a pressing question to the people of Buenos Aires in 1810, Moreno emphasized that the executive was the authority in the state.60 Agreeing with Montesquieu, he brushed aside the doubts of Rousseau on the division of power.61

The next question was how these powers were to be divided. Moreno pointed out that they could be distributed in many ways. The first example was Spain. He examined the Spanish monarchs, who had gathered all the three powers for themselves, which had proved disastrous for the Spanish people. Ignoring Montesquieu’s finely drawn differences between a monarch and a despot, he termed Spain’s monarchical government a dictatorial regime. He mentioned nations such as England in which the three powers were divided, with the result that it prevented a despotic regime from establishing itself. He asserted that the best arrangement of these powers would be the one in which the rights of man were best protected. This was England’s system of a division of powers. Moreno considered Montesquieu’s division of powers to be a description of England’s system. The present English system of responsible government was in one of its stages of development, though this was not recognized in England or in Buenos Aires. Moreno was more interested in the rights of man as they affected the form of government than in the latter itself. To Moreno this protection of the rights of man was the all-important factor in the decision of how the powers of government should he divided in a constitution. There would be no consolidation of all powers into one hand in Moreno’s constitution for Spain.62

Moreno was highly influenced by the idea of “constitution.” It is second only to a representative congress in emphasis in his writings.63 This was a natural ranking, because the people must first elect a national congress, whose first task was to establish a constitution. Moreno knew about the ideas of Jovellanos, and he wrote of the decline of Spain when the Hapsburgs were destroying the medieval constitution. He knew about the constitution of England, which was an unwritten constitution like that of Spain, but one which had been strengthened instead of weakened. He undoubtedly knew of the constitution that the citizens of the United States had put on paper two decades previous. With this knowledge and interest it would be surprising if Moreno did not consider a constitution an accompaniment to greatness and the basis for a strong government, and that a written constitution for Spain was possible.

Moreno defined a constitution as “the primary law of a nation”64 and civil law as “the expression of the will and consent of the nation, manifested by it and by means of its representatives, and published in a way so that none could be unaware of it.”65 In Moreno’s governmental plan the constitution was to be drawn up by a congress which received its authority from the people. The constitution would be the basic law of the nation, and provide a framework to divide the powers of government into three parts. Not only could civil law be composed by the representative legislature, but the will of the people also comprised the civil law. One can see in this the trace of Rousseau’s Social Contract, in which he discussed the general will of the people.66 But more important, this was the Enlightenment’s idea of popular sovereignty in a framework ready for action.

The first obligation of this government, said Moreno, was to protect the four natural rights of man. The first was liberty of persons and opinion. Liberty, according to Moreno, was not license, but was a virtue which needed the support of justice, moderation, sobriety, and prudence. The second was equality, which Moreno defined very carefully. He said that people were equal by right, that is in the eyes of the law, but not in fact. Those who were not industrious were not equal to those who were. The third was property, which meant that those who were more industrious should have the right to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The fourth was security, which was the constitutional guarantee given the citizen that his rights would be protected. As such it was the keystone of the edifice of natural rights.67

Moreno elaborated on the natural rights of liberty. Certain specific freedoms, such as freedom of the press, freedom of communication, and freedom of association, were needed. Freedom of the press was necessary to educate and enlighten the people, as well as to provide a means for circulating opinions. England, he said, was invincible not only because of her economic and cultural wealth, but also because of her freedom of the press, which provided for a rapid communication of ideas. In this statement Moreno showed his familiarity with England and the English system, evidently derived through contact with the Englishmen who came to Buenos Aires. He stressed the need for free communication and for an increase in the use of the mail service to promote mental exchange between the members of society. Freedom of association allowed clubs which “would aid” in forming an educated public opinion.68

Moreno was cautious in the advocacy of clubs, using the phrase “would aid” in reference to the effect of the clubs on public opinion. Any doubts he might have had were probably derived from Rousseau’s thoughts on the matter. In his Social Contract, Rousseau warned that associations should not be allowed to exist, for the formation of special groups would eventually lead to a single agreement which would destroy the true general will, an accumulation of many differences of opinion. This would be disastrous, according to Rousseau’s opinion, for the general will wisely guided the society through its existence, and should this guidance be lost trouble would surely follow.69 Whether or not he was influenced by Rousseau’s warnings, Moreno faced a practical situation, and he was willing to employ means which had proven successful elsewhere. His object in developing public opinion was to attract public support for an enlightened government of the Spanish dominions. He obviously felt that the associations would do what they had done for England, that is, aid in the communication of ideas. The result would give the provinces the same advantages that England had in public thinking and discussion. Unfortunately for Moreno’s dream, the people of Argentina did not have the background of experience and the mental preparation for associations to promote ideas, and decisions in the battle of ideas were made on the battlefield.

The article for the Gazeta of September 6, 1810, contains a discussion of the problem of the disunity of the Spanish empire at that time. In it Moreno urged that a new social compact was necessary as soon as possible in order to reunite all of the Spanish dominions and prevent political discord. He spoke of the interior by way of example. The Junta did not have full control of these regions and until it regained control the empire would be in danger. He feared that this loss of control would be the prelude to the breaking up of the Spanish domains.70

In the Gazeta of October 2, he spoke of the common defense against Napoleon and stated that a solid government was the first step in such a defense. Without a government all the other efforts in the struggle were to no avail. He suggested a government with a large cortes and an executive with departments of interior, finance, education, and so forth. This government would provide the direction that the army would need and, more important, would recover the old power and vigor of the Spanish people. All action would radiate from this government. He warned, on the other hand, that if good government was not established all would be for nothing.71

Moreno wrote the last article of the “Spanish Patriot” for the issue of October 15. In this article he stated that “Fernando will be our king, and will command us; but only with regulation by the constitution that the nation will establish in its general cortes.”72 But Fernando was a prisoner in Bayonne and at the time there was no one to heed Moreno’s call for a cortes and a constitution. Realizing this and using the dissolution of the Central Junta as an excuse, Moreno began a new series, based not on a unified Hispanic structure, but on a constitution and congress which would replace the provisional government of the junta of Bueno Aires.

As a lawyer Moreno was interested in the legality of any action that he counseled. This was true of his editorial series on governmental organization for the provinces of the Plata which appeared in his newspaper during the months of November and December, 1810. He stated the legal basis for the organization of a new government when he wrote:

The ties, that unite the people to the King, are distinct from those that unite men among themselves, a people are a people before giving themselves to a King, and hence, although the social relations between the people and the King remain loose or suspended by the capture of our Monarch, the ties that unite one man with another in society remains subsistent. . ..73

This was basically the same idea that he had expounded in his articles on government under the heading of “The Spanish Patriot.”

Later, he expanded that assertion using Rousseau’s term “the general will.”74 Moreno wrote that “the true sovereignty of a people never has consisted but in the general will of the same.”75 Following Rousseau’s idea of an indivisible sovereignty, he stated that sovereignty cannot belong to one man. The governors were the executors of the laws established by the general will of the people.76 Correcting those who thought that sovereignty belonged to the king, he stated that the king’s authority had automatically returned to the people when he became a captive, thus asserting that the king’s authority had originally been given him by the people.77

A further application of the ideas of the Enlightenment was made to the Spanish constitutional organization of the Americas. The legal ties that bound the Americas to the Spanish monarch were not those of the social pact which would involve the consent of the people of the Americas. According to Moreno the force used by the conquisitadores gained the Americas for the king of Spain, and it was the sole binding force.78 Although this assertion was based on Spanish legal tradition, it disregarded any divine rights to America that the Spanish king was granted by God through the Pope. The enlightened Creoles believed in God’s grant of sovereignty to the people and were opposed to the divine rights theory of monarchy. Since the king controlled them by force, and since that king was missing due to the captivity of Fernando, Moreno implied that something was needed to fill this loss.79 The idea of the social compact did not apply in this case. With no monarch to continue his control over the Americas or to receive their allegiance or their consent to his rule and dominion, the Americas had no ties with Spain. In this line of thought one might surmise that Moreno was laying the legal groundwork for emancipation of the Americas, an act that he had already called “just.”80

Having refuted the ties that bound the Americas to a Spain which had been overrun by the French, it became Moreno’s task to take up the subject of establishing a social pact in the Americas. The question was whether or not the Americas should be united. If the viceroyalties were not to be under one managing body, just what was to be the division?

In the November 6 issue of the Gazeta, he began a discussion of the Americas and gave his readers an insight into what he would write in later issues. He described a respectable nation not as one with great wealth, territory, or troops, but as having:

a sober and hard working people; where love of country is a common virtue, and love is elevated to that grade of energy, that tramples difficulties, and dispels dangers. The prosperity of Sparta shows to the world that a little state can be formidable by its virtues; and this town reduced to a wide place in the Peloponese was a terror of Greece, and will form the admiration of all the centuries.81

Moreno sponsored an organization for the viceroyalty, rejecting any need for or possibility of an organization encompassing all of Spanish America. In the December 6 issue he wrote that the distance involved would prevent an agreement with Mexico. He compared communications between the Plata and Mexico as equal to those between the Plata and Russia or Tartary. He concluded that there could be no conciliation between the interests of the Plata and those of Mexico. He gave the colony of the Philippines as an additional example of the problem of distance.82

Having settled the question of a single state comprising the overseas colonies of Spain, he turned to his favorite project—a congress which would establish a constitution. He had promoted it in regard to the Spanish empire; now he applied it to the viceroyalty of Río de la Plata. This constitution was to be the primary law of an entirely new government. Moreno stressed the need for organization in order to assure the protection of the people from external enemies and from internal dissension. He specifically rejected the use of the laws of the Indies as a law code for the Plata, and he renewed his call for a congress which would formulate a fundamental law and establish a superior government to replace the old viceregal system and the provisional junta.83

He did not go into detail as to the precise composition of this congress nor as to the organization of the constitution. It might be that he planned to at a later date, but this is no help in determining what kind of government he would favor. His previous writings would indicate a government with division of powers among three branches as the kind he would support and he did give us his thoughts on federalism.

Although he stated that he feared a federative government would not work for Buenos Aires, he did discuss the federative system with some admiration. Concerning the history of federalism, he stated that, contrary to public opinion, recent research had shown that the Greeks had only the tie of religion and not of a political confederation. It was the modern people who gave good examples of federation. He quoted from Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia in giving an account of the Virginian Indian federation, which he called an admirable form of government. Then he mentioned the success of the Swiss in establishing a federal government. He concluded by stating that a federation might be used in the future for the Americas when it became advantageous, but as far as the present was concerned he thought that there should be separate governments for the old viceroyalties.84

Among Moreno’s objectives for a constitution was to provide for the protection of the state from internal damages. It was the internal situation and the possibilities of danger from it that was to challenge the editor of the Gazeta in December. These events were to take place before the background of the question of honors and a basic conflict between Moreno and Saavedra.

Moreno was a man of strong opinions which included precepts for men in public service. He had written that the relation between law, citizen, and magistrate should be this: “That the citizen obey the magistrate respectfully; that the magistrate obey the laws blindly.”85 Implicit in this was the fact that the magistrate and citizen were equals as far as the law was concerned, and Moreno felt that this should apply to all matters. The magistrate should not raise himself above the citizen by receiving honors and special privileges. This became an important facet of his conflict with Saavedra.86

The conflict between Moreno and Cornelio de Saavedra had been long in developing. Moreno, as can be seen in his progression from developing a government for the Spanish dominions to developing a government for the Plata, was never satisfied with standing still. As indicated by his acceptance speech in May, 1810, when he stated that the junta must be highly active in remedying the ills that affected Buenos Aires, he felt that the junta must progress until all was well with the affairs of state. Certainly he must have felt that retrogression was a potent danger. This feeling was expressed in his acceptance statement in May, when he predicted that the new government would have to “encounter attacks due to the passions, interests, and inconstancy of those persons who now encourage reform.”87

Saavedra, on the other hand, was conservative and evidently satisfied with being the head of an independent junta which controlled a vast area.88 As such he would be interested in the status quo and perhaps even wish to consolidate his power. As to what was good for the Plata, however, he wanted a gradual transformation that would leave tradition intact. With this feeling, he would consider any strong change with disfavor.89 Strong change was just what Moreno and his partisans such as Dr. Juan José Castelli wanted. What Moreno wanted seemed excessive to Saavedra, and friction was inevitable.90

This was the basis of an antagonism that began in the early days of the junta when the two men clashed on the matter of the punishment of the viceroy and oidores. Moreno advocated harsh measures, while Saavedra advised moderation.91 There were other disagreements, and eventually nascent parties formed around the two men. Moreno’s group was larger, but Moreno’s measures were often too extreme for his followers, and Saavedra opposed them successfully. Moreno formed an informal club outside the junta as a means of promoting his views.

The conflict came to a climax in December, starting with two small incidents happening in succession. On December 5, 1810, a celebration was held in honor of the victory of Suipacha and of Saavedra. While it was in progress Moreno passed by with a friend, and they tried to join the party. The sentinel on guard, not recognizing Moreno, refused him entrance and Moreno left with affronted pride. It was during this party that an army officer by the name of Atanasio Duarte toasted Saavedra, saluting him as the emperor of America. The news of this toast reached Moreno, who evidently feared the possibility that Saavedra might become a dictator and who was angry at being excluded from the celebration. He drew up a decree prohibiting the president of the junta from receiving honors of any type and exiling Duarte. The next day Moreno presented it to Saavedra, who signed it along with the other members of the junta.92

The decree contained an introduction and sixteen articles. In the introduction Moreno vigorously decried the danger of tyrants. He upheld the idea that the magistrate was no different from the rest of the citizens, and attacked symbols of authority as being despotic. The decree imposed equality on all members of the junta, prohibited any distinguishing marks on the apparel of members or the retinues accompanying them, ended the employment of sentinels at the palace or at public functions, prohibited toasts and public acclamations for individuals, and established exile as the penalty for violators. It also provided that only the cabildo should receive preferential seating at public entertainments.93

Moreno’s victory over Saavedra did not last long, since he was soon outvoted on a matter that he felt strongly about. Nine deputies from the interior, led by Dean Gregorio Funes of Córdoba, arrived in Buenos Aires and demanded incorporation into the junta. They had been selected in accordance with the junta decree of May 27, which stated that provincial deputies would become members upon their arrival in Buenos Aires. They argued their case at a formal meeting of the junta on December 18. The members of the junta disagreed with them and stated that a mistake had been made in the decree due to their inexperience in May and that the deputies were called as members of a congress, not as members of the junta. The deputies were allowed to vote on the issue since the provincials had as much right to determine the question as did the porteños. This was in itself enough to decide the issue in their favor, since they were in the majority. Most of the provincial deputies voted first, being unanimously in favor of incorporation, and then Saavedra and the junta members followed. In his vote Saavedra affirmed that they did not have a right to be members, but because of the “popular agitations” against the decree of December 6 on honors, it was convenient that they be admitted. There were ten votes for incorporation as a matter of right, four—Saavedra and three junta members—for incorporation as a matter of convenience, and two votes, those of Moreno and Juan José Paso, against corporation.

Also during this meeting of December 18, certain allusions were made to Moreno which aggravated the situation. Believing that the vote was directed against him and feeling that his position on the junta could not continue under such conditions, Moreno resigned.94 The junta rejected the resignation, but Moreno was adamant, declaring that “the resignation of a man of character was irrevocable.”95

After Moreno’s resignation the decree of December 6 was revoked and Saavedra’s honors were restored.96 Saavedra’s victory, however, led to his downfall. The enlarged junta, which had been increased to twenty-one members, was incapable of functioning either as a legislature or as an executive. The resignation of Moreno, the moving spirit of the junta, also weakened the governing body. Further reaction in April and an unfortunate series of events in mid-1811 brought about liberal plotting. Finally, in September, 1811, the junta was dissolved to make way for the liberal Triumvirate.97

Meanwhile, Moreno made a rather condescending statement about his resignation:

I relinquish . . . and hope that some day I shall enjoy the gratitude of the very citizens who have persecuted me. From my heart I forgive them, and I even view their erring conduct with a species of pleasure; for, above the estimation in which I might be held, I prefer that the people should begin to think about government, even though they should commit errors which they will later remedy.98

Moreno did not remain long without a position, for at that meeting on December 18, he spoke to Saavedra privately and asked to be sent on a diplomatic mission to Rio de Janeiro and London.99 The request was granted and he received certificates assigning him to the courts of Brazil and Great Britain as a diplomatic agent. The position was to pay 8,000 pesos per year.100

On January 22, 1811, Moreno set sail to carry out his mission. He had a safe conduct pass from the British navy and was accompanied by two secretaries, his brother Manuel, and Tomás Guido.101 While en route he became ill and at the end of the third day of this illness, March 4, 1811, he died. With the English flag at half mast, his body was committed to the sea on the afternoon of the 4th.102 When the news reached Buenos Aires, President Saavedra is supposed to have made the remark that, “It took so much water to extinguish so much fire!”103

In considering the influence of Montesquieu or Rousseau on Moreno, it must be noted that he did not accept their precepts blindly.104 He drew upon these writers as he did on Jovellanos and others, and used them for his own purposes. Not only did he reject Rousseau’s religious ideas, but he did not accept Rousseau’s more radical implications on the general will.105 Whereas Rousseau put his faith in the basic wisdom of the masses and warned against factionalism, Moreno accepted the democratic idea of equality, but in restricted terms. He believed, for example, that only the educated should vote and that associations—factionalism in Rousseau’s terminology—should have a right to exist. The fact of this selection emphasizes that the Swiss philosopher’s influence on Moreno was hardly absolute. Although Moreno agreed with Montesquieu at times when he did not agree with Rousseau, he seems to have found more in the latter’s work that appealed to him. In addition to the works cited previously, he probably read and was influenced by innumerable other books written by the philosophers and scholars of the Enlightenment, since many of these works were being circulated in Chuquisaca and Buenos Aires when he was present. The importance is not in the fact that he read them, but in the fact that he used what he read. It has thus been important to determine which authors he used to develop his own writings. Moreno applied the ideas of the Enlightenment to the situation at hand, but, unfortunately for him, the country was not ready to receive his work.


Harold F. Peterson, “Mariano Moreno: The Making of an Insurgent,” HAHR, XIV (November, 1934), 451-452 and Manuel Moreno, Vida y memoriae del Doctor Don Mariano Moreno, 2nd ed. (Buenos Aires, 1918), p. 28.


Ibid., pp. 25-28.


Ibid., pp. 28-29.


Ibid., pp. 30, 51-52, 61-62, and Ricardo Levene, Ensayo histórico sobre la Revolución de Mayo y Mariano Moreno, 4th ed., 3 vola. (Buenos Aires, 1960), I, 4.


Manuel Moreno, pp. 30, 37-38.


Norberto Piñero, ed. Escritos de Mariano Moreno, by Mariano Moreno (Buenos Aires, 1896), pp. ix-x.


Manuel Moreno, pp. 40-41.


Ibid., pp. 44-46. According to Peterson, p. 453, Felipe Antonio de Iriarte was a priest of the archbishopric of La Plata and a revolutionary propagandist.


Manuel Moreno, p. 49.


Ibid., pp. 40, 61, 63.


Levene, Ensayo, I, 50.


Peterson, pp. 454-456, 458.


Manuel Moreno, pp. 53, 58.


Peterson, p. 456.


Manuel Moreno, pp. 58-59. According to Peterson, p. 456, another patron of Moreno was José Antonio Medina, a radical propagandist, who later took a leading role in the revolutionary councils of La Paz. Among his works was the composition of the proclamation of war against Spain.


Mariano Moreno, “Prólogo à la traducción del Contrato Social,” Escritos, p. 381.


Levene, Ensayo, I, 66-93.


Ibid., I, 98-100; Ricardo Levene, Las ideas políticas y sociales de Mariano Moreno (Buenos Aires, 1948), pp. 14, 56; and Manuel Moreno, p. 71.


Ibid., pp. 64-66, 79-81.


See Peterson, p. 462 and Levene, Ensayo, I, 111-112.


Henry S. Ferns, Britain and Argentina in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford, 1960), p. 52.


C[n.a.] Galván Moreno, Mariano Moreno: el numen de la Revolución de Mayo (Buenos Aires, 1960), pp. 85-91.


William S. Robertson, The Rise of the Spanish-American Republics (New York, 1918), p. 146.


Frederick A. Kirkpatrick, A History of the Argentine Republic (Cambridge, Eng., 1931), p. 66.


Ibid.; Ricardo Levene, A History of Argentina, trans. by William S. Robertson (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1937), p. 113; and Diego L. Molinari, La representación de los hacendados de Mariano Moreno, 2nd ed. (Buenos Aires, 1939), p. 150.


Ibid., p. 121. See Molinari for an analysis of the document and its relation to the whole picture.


Kirkpatrick, pp. 66-67.


Robertson, p. 160.


Acuerdos del extinguido cabildo de Buenos Aires, 47 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1907-1934), Ser. IV, Vol. 4, 126-147.


Manuel Moreno, pp. 181-182.


Moreno’s later writings in the Gazeta show his considerable role in educational and commercial matters. According to Núñez, Moreno played a part in all matters except fiscal. See Ignacio Núñez, Notícias históricas de la República Argentina in Biblioteca de mayo, 20 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1960-), I, 344.


Manuel Moreno, p. 208.


Gazeta de Buenos-Ayres (hereinafter cited as Gazeta), June 7, 1810, pp. 1-3.


Levene, Ensayo, II, 138, 140.


Gazeta Extraordinaria de Buenos-Ayres (hereinafter cited as Gazeta), June 23, 1810, pp. 1-14.


Gazeta, July 19, 1810, pp. 101-104.


Levene, Las ideas, p. 17.


Gazeta, September 13, 1810, pp. 234-236. Among the other promotions of Moreno were the Escuela de Matemática, a census, and various other cultural and economical needs for reforms. Galván Moreno, pp. 179-183.


José L. Romero, Las ideas politicos en Argentina, 2nd ed. (México, 1956), p. 34.


Gazeta, July 12, 1810, pp. 84-87. On June 5, 1810, the junta took practical action by cutting exportation tariffs to less than half what they had been when it took office. Ricardo Levene, El pensamiento vivo de Mariano Moreno (Buenos Aires, 1942), p. 40.


Gazeta, July 5, 1810, pp. 69-72, August 9, 1810, p. 156, and. Gazeta Extraordinaria, October 11, 1810, p. 8.


Gazeta, July 5, 1810, p. 72. See Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, Colección de obras escogidas, ed. by Juan Alonso del Real (Barcelona, 1884), pp. 77-98. In another series of articles in the porteño newspaper, Moreno uses Jovellanos again and gives his readers a quote from the Spaniard’s writings. Gazeta Extraordinaria, November 13, 1810, p. 9.


Jovellanos, pp. 77-98, and Richard Herr, The Eighteenth-Century Revolution in Spain (Princeton, 1958), pp. 341-345. The cortes was a body representing social classes and not the people as a whole.


Gazeta, July 5, 1810, pp. 73-74.


Ibid., July 12, 1810, p. 92 and July 19, 1810, p. 113.


Ibid., July 12, 1810, p. 94.


Ibid., July 19, 1810, p. 114.


Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract and Discourses, trans. by George D. Cole (New York, 1950), p. 34.


Levene, Ensayo, II, 320-329. The book was published as one of two books “for the instruction of young Americans.” Vicente D. Sierra, Historia de la Argentina (Buenos Aires, 1962), V, 209-210.


Gazeta, July 19, 1810, p. 115. See Rousseau, p. 42.


Gazeta, July 19, 1810, pp. 114-116.


Ibid., June 14, 1810, pp. 25-28.


Ibid., August 9, 1810, pp. 161-163. See Rousseau, p. 27.


Gazeta Extraordinaria, August 21, 1810, pp. 11-12.


Gazeta, August 30, 1810, pp. 206-208.


John H. Hallowell, Main Currents in Modern Political Thought (New York, 1953), p. 137. Spain had combined the three powers in the monarch to a high degree after the Catholic monarchs according to Spanish Enlightenment doctrine. It is noted, in keeping with the pre-Enlightenment Spanish political theory, that the audiencias established in the colonies had executive, legislative, and judicial functions.


John H. Randall, The Making of the Modern Mind, 2nd ed. (Boston, 1940), pp. 319-320.


Baron de Montesquieu, Spirit of Laws, trans. by Thomas Nugent, 2 vols. (New York, 1900), I, 151.


Montesquieu, I, 153.


Gazeta, July 19, 1810, p. 116.


Rousseau, pp. 24-25.


Gazeta, August 2, 1810, pp. 152-154. Cf. Montesquieu, I, 8.


Ricardo Levene, “El constitucionalismo de Mariano Moreno y la emancipación americana,” Historia, III (January-March, 1958), 57.


Gazeta, August 2, 1810, p. 151.


Ibid., July 26, 1810, p. 135. Italics are Moreno’s.


Rousseau, p. 23.


Gazeta, July 26, 1810, pp. 134-136 and August 2, 1810, p. 151.


Gazeta Extraordinaria, September 17, 1810, pp. 11-12 and Gazeta, September 27, 1810, pp. 271-273.


Rousseau, p. 27.


Gazeta, September 6, 1810, p. 224.


Gazeta Extraordinaria, October 2, 1810, pp. 10-11.


Gazeta, October 15, 1810, p. 321. Fernando was considered to be an enlightened monarch, who if free, would bring constitutional monarchy, independence (from the French), and prosperity. See Gazeta Extraordinaria, pp. 13-15.


Gazeta Extraordinaria, November 13, 1810, p. 1.


Rousseau, p. 23.


Gazeta Extraordinaria, November 13, 1810, p. 6.


Ibid. and Rousseau, p. 24.


Gazeta Extraordinaria, November 13, 1810, pp. 7-8.


Gazeta, November 15, 1810, p. 376. The influence of Rousseau on this section is demonstrated by a direct quote.


Ibid., December 6, 1810, pp. 423-424.


Ibid., November 1, 1810, p. 345.


Gazeta Extraordinaria, November 6, 1810, pp. 1-2. Italics added.


Ibid., pp. 3-4 and Gazeta, December 6, 1810, pp. 422-424. See Rousseau, p. 44. According to Jacques Chastenet, Godoy, Master of Spain 1792-1808, trans. J.[n.a.]. F. Huntington (London, 1953), p. 132, there was only a single ship a year between Mexico and the Philippines. Thus communication with the Philippines would be a year by year affair with Mexico and delayed even further between Buenos Aires and Mexico, since few ships travelled between Mexico and the Plata.


Gazeta Extraordinaria, November 13, 1810, p. 9.


Gazeta, December 6, 1810, pp. 425-427. Cf. Levene, Las ideas, p. 42: The question of whether Moreno favored a federal or a unitary government has been discussed to some extent. Paul Groussac and others believe it unlikely that Moreno considered the problem, for it had not yet existed; however, Levene felt Moreno chose the federal idea because the revolution itself was federal in nature. The truth of the matter seems to be that Moreno considered the question and made his decision in favor of a centralistic organization. He reserved federation for the future and only in the sense of providing an organization of a united Spanish America.


Gazeta Extraordinaria, November 6, 1810, p. 4. Italics are Moreno’s.


See Montesquieu, pp. 40-41, 74. Montesquieu considered honors as necessary in a republic as in a monarchy. Moreno disagreed and felt that they were not to be allowed in Buenos Aires, whatever the governmental status. Montesquieu had also stressed equality as necessary to limit ambitions, obviously sure that equality and honors could exist together. Moreno agreed with this idea of equality as limiting ambitions, feeling that equality was needed in all phases of affairs in Buenos Aires in order to protect the state. Moreno thought that honors could be dangerous to the state by promoting ambition. Certainly after the rash toast by Duarte, Saavedra was implicated in a possible desire to be viceroy or emperor, despite what he might have thought himself and Moreno, already in opposition to Saavedra, would have a strong reaction to anything of this nature.


Manuel Moreno, pp. 181-182.


Kirkpatrick, p. 79.


Ricardo Zorraquín Becú, “Cornelio Saavedra,” Historia, V (January-February, 1960), 7.


Ricardo Zorraquín Becú, “Loa grupos sociales en la Revolución de Mayo,” Historia, VI (January-March, 1961), 63.


Peterson, p. 473.


Núñez, pp. 346-347.


Gazeta Extraordinaria, December 8, 1810, pp. 33-38.


“Acta de la conferencia del 18 de diciembre de 1810,” in Levene, El pensamiento vivo, pp. 227-232.


Kirkpatrick, p. 80.


Robertson, p. 164.


John W. White, Argentina: The Life Story of a Nation (New York, 1942), p. 78.


Quoted in Levene, History, p. 266. Italics added.


It is on Saavedra’s authority that Moreno requested the mission. Cornelio de Saavedra to Feliciano A. Chiclana, Buenos Aires, January 15, 1811, Levene, Ensayo, III, 370.


Julio C. González and Raul A. Molina, “Moreno y la diplomacia de la revolución,” Historia, V (March-May, 1960), 265.


Núñez, p. 414.


Manuel Moreno, p. 264.


Robertson, p. 167.


See Ricardo Levene, “La historia de las ideas sociales y la nueva escuela histórica argentina,” RHA (December, 1944), 271-272.


See Rousseau, pp. 26-27. Also Boleslao Lewin, “Rousseau y Moreno,” La Prensa, March 18, 1962.

Author notes


The author is Senior Library Assistant of the Latin American Collection, University of Texas.