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Liberal Thought in Argentina, 1837-1940

Natalio Botana

Publication Year: 2013

Liberal Thought in Argentina, 1837-1940 is the first compilation of primary sources that document the history and tradition of liberalism in Argentina throughout the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. With only two exceptions, none of the works have ever been translated into English before. The writings in the volume are complemented by a new introduction, editorial footnotes, a chronology, and brief biographies of the authors of the original texts.

Published by: Liberty Fund


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-9

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pp. ix-xxxii

...Tulio Halperín Donghi wrote in “Liberalism in a Country Born Liberal” that liberal ideas have had undeniable importance in Argentina since its independence. The origin of the liberal tradition is thus an integral part of the origin of the country, a trait common to the Spanish American nations that came into being during the turbulent period after the fall of the Spanish Empire in America...

1: Liberalism during the Dictatorship of Rosas (1837–1850)

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Juan Bautista Alberdi: The Argentine Republic, Thirty-seven Years after the May Revolution (1847)

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pp. 3-26

...Plate has the right to cry out with pride, “I am an Argentine.” On the foreign soil on which I reside, not as a political exile, having left my home country legally, of my own free choice, just as an Englishman or a Frenchman can reside outside his country as it suits him; in the lovely country that receives me as a guest and provides...

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Esteban Echeverría: Symbolic Words (1837) (Excerpts)

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pp. 27-47

...the necessary condition instilled in man by Providence for the free exercise and full development of his faculties in making the universe his own. Society is the vast theater where his power grows, where his intelligence is nourished, and where the fruits of his tireless activity appear in quick succession. Without association...

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Domingo Faustino Sarmiento: Civilization and Barbarism: The Life of Juan Facundo Quiroga: Introduction to the 1845 Edition

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pp. 48-57

...shaking off the bloodstained dust that covers your ashes, you may rise up to explain the secret life and internal convulsions tearing at the innards of a noble people! You hold the secret: reveal it to us! Ten years after your tragic death, the man of the cities and the gaucho of the Argentine plains, when taking different trails through the desert...

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Domingo Faustino Sarmiento: The United States (1847) (Excerpt)

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pp. 58-112

...caused by the spectacle of a new drama, full of incidents, with no plan or unity, bristling with crimes that shed a sinister light on acts of heroism and abnegation, amid fabulous splendors of decorations that mimic age-old forests, flowery meadows, perilous mountains, or human abodes in whose peaceful space reign virtue and innocence. I wish...

2: The Framework of the National Constitution (1852–1860)

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Juan Bautista Alberdi: Bases and Starting Points for the Political Organization of the Argentine Republic (1852) (Excerpts)

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pp. 115-176

...Victory at Monte Caseros alone1 does not put the Argentine Republic in possession of all that it needs. The battle has set her on the path to organization and progress, in light of which this victory is as important an event as the May Revolution, which overthrew the Spanish colonial government. Although it cannot be said that we are back where we started (for states do not tread the path of their suffering...

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Juan Bautista Alberdi: The Economic and Revenue System of the Argentine Confederation According to Its Constitution of 1853 (Excerpts)

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pp. 177-215

...Scattered about the Constitution, its provisions do not appear therein as parts of a system. Yet they form it more completely than any other known constitution in both the New and Old Worlds. My aim is to gather together these provisions into a methodical body of science, arranging them into a system suggested by...

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Part 1 of the Constitution of the Argentine Nation (1853—1860—1866)

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pp. 216-222

...We, the representatives of the people of the Argentine nation, gathered in General Constituent Assembly by the will and election of the provinces that compose it, in fulfillment of preexisting pacts, in order to form a national union, guarantee justice, secure domestic peace, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves, to our...

3. Liberalism in a New Nation (1857–1879)

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Bartolomé Mitre: Protection of Agriculture (1857)

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pp. 225-229

...We need not state that we are not protectionists. Everyone knows that there are no more ardent defenders of the freedom of trade than ourselves, whether in government, in the press, or in public speech, and that many of the economic laws under which we live, based on the most liberal principles, bear the mark of our ideas, starting with the customs law and finishing with the maritime pilots...

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Bartolomé Mitre: On Trade (1869)

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pp. 230-235

...The Argentine Republic, gentlemen, is the only South American nation that has not been populated because of the incentive of precious metals, the only one that does not owe its formation, development, and gradual prosperity to the magic of gold and silver locked up in its bosom, which has attracted European immigration...

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Bartolomé Mitre: Chivilcoy Speech (1868) (Excerpt)

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pp. 236-244

...Let us turn to another example, not so far from home. The occupation of territory and the ownership of land are two great conquests that civilization has achieved among us. What methodical plan preceded this occupation? What preconceived idea led to property? By what means did one bring about the other? The need...

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Bartolomé Mitre: Governments as Business Managers (1869)

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pp. 245-249

...Governments are said to be poor business managers. If governments become merchants to wrestle with the public, and use the people’s revenue to compete with private industry; if they divert government forces and resources into works that jeopardize the interests of the community, not only are governments...

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José Hernández: Governments as Business Managers (1869)

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pp. 250-252

...matter of the port, which has not yet been resolved, General Mitre gave several speeches in support of the province’s right to set itself up as the manager of said works. “They are mistaken,” said General Mitre, “those who contend that governments should not be business managers...

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Bartolomé Mitre: Immigration (1870)

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pp. 253-256

...The government of which I was the head was of the belief that the best system of immigration was a spontaneous one, and it promoted that indirectly while laying the ground for the fertile seed of the population so imported to prosper in our country all the more. True to this fundamental idea, it rejected any proposal for development...

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Nicolás Avellaneda: On Laws Concerning Public Lands: Conclusion (1865)

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pp. 257-263

...We have reached the end of our task; and there only remains, in conclusion, for us to briefly set out the consequences we have established in the preceding pages by listing the provisions of our laws, reviewing them critically, or expounding the most proven doctrines and the examples worthy of imitation. Leasing...

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Leandro N. Alem: Investigation into the National Secondary School of Buenos Aires (Excerpt from Speech to Legislature of Buenos Aires Province, 22nd Ordinary Session, June 28, 1876)

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pp. 264-270

...challenge those who contest the bill to quote a single article from the Constitution that establishes, I do not say categorically, but in a way that can be deduced by arguing fairly, that the obligations and powers of the central power in these matters are of such an absolute, exclusive character as is claimed by these gentlemen....

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Domingo Faustino Sarmiento: The Social Contract in the Argentine Republic (1879)

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pp. 271-276

...A phrase of Rivadavia’s and the subject of his enemies’ mockery! The magnificent future that awaited the Republic! The phrase now forgotten would have passed into folklore! Some days ago we found in an old newspaper, rejuvenated with its gray hairs dyed to look as if it belonged to this day and age, the phrase...

4. Liberalism in Government and in Opposition (1880–1910)

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Leandro N. Alem: Speech on the Federalization of Buenos Aires (1880)

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pp. 279-283

...the respective position of the federal states with the central power, because this is an unquestionable truth: when the general power “by itself” should have more strength than all the federal states combined, the regime shall be written into the Constitution, but it could easily and will gradually be subverted in practice and, in the end, completely...

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The Omnipotence of the State Is the Negation of Individual Liberty (1880)

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pp. 284-289

...to the gradual work of their progress and civilization on account of the conditions of South American society. And the people’s favorite engine for performing this work is civil or social liberty, equally distributed among the native and foreign individuals that make up the association or people of South America. If this natural and inevitable...

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Presidential Messages (1881–1886)

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pp. 290-293

...have to legislate about all that constitutes the nation’s attributes, means, and power—so great was the lack of a permanent capital for the Republic. You may now pass your laws in complete freedom and in the knowledge that they will ultimately be obeyed, without fearing that any provincial governor, breaking with all practice...

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Speech on the Common Education Act (1883)

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pp. 294-300

...Roman Catholic religion according to the correct use of the words and clauses of the Constitution in keeping with the above statement does not merely mean, as has been claimed, to give the Church a more or less limited sum of money to pay for the external aspect, the material aspect of worship. No! By virtue of the constitutional...

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Speech on the Common Education Act (1883)

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pp. 301-307

...compromised and distorted in their legitimate hopes of development the day that the political parties responsible for putting those aspirations into practice unite and fight under the banner of religious ideas as the main goal of their efforts, religious ideas that are so liable to fall into aberrations in the masses. The political banner might...

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Roque Sáenz Peña: Speech on the American “Zollverein” (1889) (Conference of the Pan-American Union)

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pp. 308-313

...key to Argentine markets, perhaps because they have no such key, since they lack any instrument of closure or any machinery of monopoly or prohibition. We have lived with our customs open to world trade, our rivers free for all flags, our industries free, inviting the labor of man with their benefits, and above all, free...

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Speech at the National Senate (1891)

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pp. 314-318

...through this thorny political matter. It has rightly been said there is unease in our country and, it has been added, revolution is rife. There is indeed great unease in our country and revolution is indeed rife. What remains to be seen is the cause of this unease and who the real revolutionaries are. To my mind, the revolutionaries are those who break the law, who try to subvert our system, who subjugate public freedoms, and who subsequently thrust our country into an abnormal, unconstitutional...

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Declaration of Principles (1891)

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pp. 319-324

...to be aware of the causes that have brought us to this distressing state, the National Committee feels that the time has come to speak to the Republic, for, bent as it is on the fight to renew national powers, it believes that, for the sake of the greater understanding of the righteousness...

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Speech in the Debate on a Mandatory National Language for Schools (1896)

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pp. 325-332

...linguistic unity is an unequivocal and essential sign of national unity. Language, Mr. President, does appear to be a sign of national unity, but it is not, as I shall demonstrate to the honorable Chamber. Those who support the ideas of the bill say that nothing separates men as much as linguistic diversity: that language is not only a material connection, but also an intellectual and a moral one that...

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Speech on the Customs Act (1894)

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pp. 333-335

...vehicle for protectionism, and elevated levels of protection at that? Does our Constitution, in its chief guidelines for revenue and the economy, enshrine any of the schools of thought or principles that govern production in the world? Does it contain provisions in favor of free trade or protectionism? And once these initial questions have been answered...

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Speech on the Residence Act (1904)

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pp. 336-338

...both intended to safeguard liberty. What liberty can they be referring to when both constitutions refer to it? Might it be political freedom or civil freedom? There is not one North American, English, or South American writer who does not say that the preambles of the constitutions I am alluding to refer solely and exclusively to civil liberty...

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Juan Bautista Justo: Signor Lorini’s Monetary Theory (1904)

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pp. 339-344

...practical consequences that were foreseen and sought thereby: the agio on gold has not fallen below 127.27 percent, the ceiling value represented by one peso m/n2 being reduced to 44 gold cents. What this means for the class of salaried workers and, consequently, for the country’s general development has already been demonstrated, and there would...

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José Nicolás Matienzo: Representative Federal Government in the Argentine Republic (1910)

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pp. 345-362

...lies in the hands of the president of the nation and the governors of the provinces, with each of these state officials receiving a share proportional to the political influence they have managed to attain. The governor of Buenos Aires exercises the greatest electoral power, because, as well as having a higher number of elective offices at his disposal...

5. Liberalism on the Defensive (1912–1940)

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Message on the Electoral Reform (Buenos Aires, February 29, 1912)

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pp. 365-372

...The political moment that it is my honor to preside over is one that I regard as significant for the future of our institutions insomuch as the electoral reform heralds an evolution in representative government, and in the environment and customs in which Argentine democracy is to develop. And so crucial do I consider the new state that...

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The Protectionist Fallacy (1916)

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pp. 373-374

...War brews superstition, fuels hatred between peoples, and creates antisocial interests. It is quite unremarkable, then, that in the heat of the conflagration in Europe, the protectionist fallacy should once again rear its ugly head and find new supporters...

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Dissenting Opinion in Ercolano, Agustín v. Lanteri Renshaw, Julieta (1922)

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pp. 375-386

...The judgment appealed in the last instance applying Article 1 of Law Number 11,157 is contrary to the right that the appellant has founded in Articles 14, 17, and 28 of the national Constitution, and consequently an extraordinary appeal has been rightly granted by this Court according to Article 14 of the Law of Jurisdiction and Competence, number 48, and Article 6, of Law 4055...

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Message and Bill of the Executive Declaring the Need to Amend Articles 42, 46, 67, Section 7, and 75 and 87 of the National Constitution (1923)

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pp. 387-391

...To the Honorable Congress of the Nation The executive submits the attached bill for the honorable gentlemen’s consideration, declaring the need to amend certain provisions of the national Constitution. As it stated at the opening of the current legislative sessions, the executive believes our fundamental law has gradually to be perfected by means of partial amendments, as advised...

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Internal Taxation (1924)

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pp. 392-404

...In my opening speech of the previous legislative term, I set out to this honorable chamber the need to reform taxation laws along the following bases: burden of taxation more in tune with the economic wherewithal of the taxpayer; coordination of the taxation systems of the nation, provinces, and communes; determination of the limits of the country’s tax-paying capacity; participation of the provinces in national...

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Civilization Is the Work of the People, Not of the Rulers (1932) (Excerpts)

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pp. 405-410

...The subject I will deal briefly with tonight was suggested to me by unfair criticisms that, during the dictatorship that has just elapsed, have frequently been made regarding the ability of the people to manage their own life. They have been accused of natural ineptitude, which, according to their critics, must be made good by...

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Letter to a Martian (1933)

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pp. 411-415

...What is going on on Earth? This is the question the Martians are asking themselves about the strange rumors reaching them from our planet. Their powerful telescopes have revealed nothing new. Save for an uncommon screaming, there is nothing abnormal to be observed. No seismic catastrophe has convulsed the surface of the...

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Speech Delivered as Guest of Honor of the British Chamber of Commerce in the Argentine Republic at Lunch in the Plaza Hotel, July 11, 1940

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pp. 416-426

...I greatly appreciate the kind invitation extended to me to attend this meeting, affording me direct contact with the most representative personalities of the British community in my country, a community that has always been remarkable for its activities promoting the progress of our Republic and its steadfast, unrelenting action toward the consolidation...

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Short Biographies

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pp. 427-430

...Born in Tucumán, Alberdi was a lawyer, writer, and jurisconsult, and a member of the May Association (1836–1837). He was exiled during the Rosas government. His economic, constitutional, and political writings were the main source for the drafters of the 1853 national Constitution. He was a diplomatic representative of the Argentine Confederation’s government to Europe between 1854 and 1860, and subsequently lived in France until his death...


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pp. 431-432


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pp. 433-448

E-ISBN-13: 9781614879060
E-ISBN-10: 1614879060
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865978522

Page Count: 480
Publication Year: 2013