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The Case of the Ugly Suitor and Other Histories of Love, Gender, and Nation in Bueno

Jeffrey M. Shumway

Publication Year: 2005

In 1840 Gumerscindo Arroyo hoped to marry Francisca Canicoba, but her father forbade it. Consequently, Francisca took her father to court for permission to marry, where he objected on the grounds that Arroyo was simply too ugly.
In the courtrooms of nineteenth-century Buenos Aires, children battled parents in order to fulfill their romantic desires and marry the mate of their choice. Parents and guardians also struggled for custody of young children, which some did out of love while others were greedy for child labor. In courtrooms and elsewhere, women challenged their traditional status as social and intellectual inferiors. Though all these struggles existed in earlier times, the nineteenth century injected a new dynamic into such conflicts: Argentina’s revolution against Spain and the subsequent attempts by political and intellectual leaders to craft a new nation out of the vestiges of Spanish colonialism.
The family, many leaders recognized, was the vital building block of the nation. Hence, matters of the heart and hearth intertwined with matters of the state. Examining family conflicts and the political and legal backdrop of those cases reveals strong continuities in attitudes about gender and family. At the same time, ideological influences of the revolutionary movement combined with the practical needs of nation building to create new freedoms and new identities for women and children over the course of the nineteenth century. The Case of the Ugly Suitor brings these family and national struggles to life, many times in the words of the participants themselves.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: Engendering Latin America

Title Page, Copyright [Includes Contents and Illustrations]

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pp. viii


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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: The Ugly Suitor

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pp. 1-7

No one will ever know how ugly Gumesindo Arroyo really was. We do know he was too ugly for José León Canicoba’s taste, and it was Canicoba’s daughter Francisca who fell in love with Gumesindo. ...

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1. Buenos Aires: Settings in Time and Place [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 8-19

As Francisca and Gumesindo made their way to court on 4 March 1842, the sights, sounds, and smells of a bustling city enveloped them.1 Let us enter the city with them.
The whistles and calls of street vendors surely caught Gumesindo and Francisca’s attention: caramels, pastries, and alfajores for the sweet tooth...

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2. Lineage, Morality, and Industry: Contours of Family and Society

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pp. 20-44

Much to the horror of Damiana Vidal, the long arm of patriarchy extended even beyond the grave. By 1839, Damiana’s marriage to Ignacio Lara was falling apart. When the couple separated, it must have been on bitter terms, because Ignacio decided to place their son...

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3. “Accept Us as Free Men”: Ruptures in Society and Family

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pp. 45-67

Being from Spain had been a great advantage for men who had migrated to Spain’s New World colonies, men like José Nazareno y López. During the colonial period, royal officials felt that peninsulares (Spaniards born in Spain) were superior to criollos (Spaniards born in the Americas)...

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4. “If You Love Me”: Paternal Reason versus Youthful Romance

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pp. 68-96

María de Todos los Santos Sánchez de Velazco y Trillo was only fourteen years old when she decided on whom she wanted to marry: Martín Jacobo de Thompson, her second cousin on her mother’s side. It was not uncommon for cousins to marry, and at 23, Martín was handsome, well educated...

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5. “The Purity of My Blood”: Attitudes toward Interracial Marriage

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pp. 97-114

Lorenzo Barbosa could not believe what his daughter Josefa was contemplating. In early 1821 she had fallen in love with Pascual Cruz, a mulatto. For Lorenzo such a relationship was out of the question, for he and his family were white. When the couple asked his permission to marry...

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6. Crude and Outdated Ideas: Attitudes toward Women

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pp. 115-138

"We are entering a new era of Liberty, and [men] have no right whatsoever to exclude us from it." So wrote the female editors of La Camelia in 1852. The fall of Juan Manuel de Rosas had initiated the so-called era of Liberty, and with the help of their own newspaper...

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Epilogue: An Old and a New Beginning

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pp. 139-145

In the 1850s and 1860s, Argentina experienced another important tran sition. Juan Manuel de Rosas fell from power in 1852 at the hand of his former ally, General Justo José Urquiza, governor of the Entre Ríos province. Urquiza was promptly elected president of the Argentine Confederation...


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pp. 147-181


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pp. 183-195

Index [Includes other works in this series]

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pp. 197-200

E-ISBN-13: 9780803204980
E-ISBN-10: 0803204981

Page Count: 200
Illustrations: Illus.
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Engendering Latin America