Primera Junta

Last updated

Primera Junta
United Provinces of the Río de la Plata
Primera junta por Francisco Fortuny.jpg
Established25 May 1810
(May Revolution)
Disbanded18 December 1810
Preceded by Viceroy of the Río de la Plata
Succeeded by Junta Grande
Voting members
Last election
May Revolution
Meeting place
Fort of Buenos Aires

The Primera Junta or First Assembly is the most common name given to the first independent government of Argentina. It was created on 25 May 1810, as a result of the events of the May Revolution. The Junta initially had representatives from only Buenos Aires. When it was expanded, as expected, with the addition of the representatives from the other cities of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, it became popularly known instead as the Junta Grande (Grand Council). The Junta operated at El Fuerte (the fort, where the modern Casa Rosada stands), which had been used since 1776 as a residence by the Viceroys.



This Junta—officially named the Junta Provisional Gubernativa de las Provincias del Río de la Plata a nombre del Señor Don Fernando VII (Provisional Governing Junta of the Provinces of Río de la Plata in the Name of Lord Don Ferdinand VII)—allegedly meant to govern in the name of the King of Spain, while he was imprisoned by Napoleon Bonaparte. Juntas were a form of transitional or emergency government, which attempted to maintain Spanish sovereignty, that emerged during the Napoleonic invasion in Spanish cities that had not succumbed to the French. The most important for Spanish America was the Junta of Seville, which claimed sovereignty over the overseas possessions, given the fact that the province of Seville historically had enjoyed exclusive rights to the American trade. Its claims had been rejected by Spanish Americans, and its authority was quickly superseded by a Supreme Central Junta of Spain, which included American representation.

The Open cabildo of 22 May decided to replace the viceroy with a Junta. Cabildoabierto-Subercaseaux-edit.jpg
The Open cabildo of 22 May decided to replace the viceroy with a Junta.

When the Supreme Central Junta abolished itself in 1810, the politically active inhabitants of Buenos Aires saw no better moment than this to establish a local government. [1] They had been influenced by the recent democratic and republican philosophical wave, and were also concerned about the commercial monopoly exerted by the Spanish crown, which was suffocating the local economy. Historically Buenos Aires province had partially mitigated this problem through contraband. Local politicians, such as former council member and legal advisor to the viceroy, Juan José Castelli, who wanted a change towards self-government and free commerce, cited traditional Spanish political theory and argued that the King being imprisoned, sovereignty had returned to the people. [2] The people were to assume the government until the King returned, just as the subjects in Spain had done two years earlier with the establishment of juntas. The Viceroy and his supporters countered that the colonies belonged to Spain and did not have a political relationship with only the King. Therefore, they should follow any governmental body established in Spain as the legal authority, namely the Supreme Central Junta of Spain and its successor, the Council of Regency.

The meeting of a Buenos Aires cabildo abierto (an extraordinary meeting of the municipal council with assistance of over 200 notables from government, the church, guilds and other corporations) during 22 May 1810, came under strong pressure from the militias and a crowd that formed in front of the cabildo hall on the Plaza Mayor (today the Plaza de Mayo), up to 25 May. The crowd favored the stance of the local politicians, and the cabildo ended up creating the Primera Junta, the first form of local government in the territory that would later become Argentina. Spain would never recover its dominion over that territory. From the very beginning of the new government, two factions manifested their differences, a more radical one, whose visible leader was the Junta's Secretary, Mariano Moreno, and the conservative wing that supported the Junta's President, Cornelio Saavedra.

In general the principles of the May Revolution were popular sovereignty, the principle of representation and federalization, division of powers, the maintenance of the mandates, and publication of the government's actions


1897 lithograph of the members of the Primera Junta. Primera Junta, litografia.jpg
1897 lithograph of the members of the Primera Junta.



Committee member

Duration and transformation

Mariano Moreno, Secretary of War, was one of the most important members of the Primera Junta. Mariano Moreno en su mesa de trabajo.jpg
Mariano Moreno, Secretary of War, was one of the most important members of the Primera Junta.

Despite the replacement of Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros, the Royal Audience and the Cabildo stood with the authorities that existed before the revolution, who opposed the Junta since its first day. The Audience refused at first to swear allegiance to the Junta, and when they finally did, prosecutor Caspe did so with clear gestures of contempt. Caspe would be later ambushed near his home, in retaliation for this. [3] The Cabildo imposed a time limit on the Junta: if the General Congress was not formed in six months, the Cabildo would reassume government. The Junta answered the same day, rejecting such requirements. The Audience then requested that the Junta submitted to the Regency Counsel, but the Junta refused, on the grounds that Cisneros did not so submit and the Audience did not request him to. The Audience itself swore allegiance to the Counsel shortly after, and they were all banished in response. Together with the ex-viceroy Cisneros, they were forced to take the ship Dart that left them at the Canary Islands; the exceptions were Márquez del Plata, who was at the Banda Oriental at the time, and the octogenarian Lucas Muñoz Cubero. [4]

From the early days of the Primera Junta there was a strong rivalry between Saavedra and Moreno. According to Ignacio Núñez, the Morenists accused Saavedra of plotting to restore the tyranny of the viceroys in his office, while the Saavedrists accused Moreno of usurping government roles that were not intended for him. [5] Matheu would also point in his memories that the Morenists were upset because they perceived that Saavedra enjoyed receiving honors and distinctions that they had chosen to avoid. [5]

The Junta was received with mixed reactions from the other cities of the viceroyalty. Santa Fe, Entre Ríos, Misiones, Corrientes and Mendoza supported the change, others did not. Upper Peru, which greatly benefited from the system of mita to exploit the mines in Potosi, supported the absolutist system for a long time. Javier De Elío in Montevideo denied recognition to the Junta. Paraguay was torn between supporters of either side, but royalists prevailed. However, the most immediate danger to the Junta came from Cordoba, where Santiago de Liniers came out of his retirement and started to organize an army to lead a counter-revolution against Buenos Aires. The Junta ordered Ortiz de Ocampo to stand against those counter-revolutionaries and bring the leaders as prisoners to Buenos Aires. A later ruling requested instead to execute them, but after defeating Liniers, Ortiz de Ocampo decided to ignore the latter and instead to follow the first ruling. The Junta removed Ocampo from his duty for this act of disobedience, and replaced him with Juan José Castelli. Castelli ordered the execution of the counter-revolutionaries by August, 26, with the exception of the priest Orellana. By this time, Mariano Moreno was popularly regarded as the leader of the revolution, whose resolution permitted the radical changes to the absolutist system that the Junta had managed so far. [6]

There's some controversy among historians about the authenticity of the Operations plan, a secret document attributed to Mariano Moreno, that set a harsh government policy in the fields of economics, politics and international relations.

Military authorities, fearing the loss of power by Saavedra, pressured the Junta to control Moreno. Moreno, on the other hand, succeeded in getting the approval of decrees that limited Saavedra and others. By December 1810 tension had reached its peak. Saavedra got the support of deputies sent by the interior provinces that had not yet been allowed to join the Junta. With this backing, Saavedra gave Moreno his most serious political setback: he forced Moreno to present his resignation on 18 December. With this resignation, the integration of the deputies from the other provinces to the Junta became possible.

Created on 25 May 1810, the Primera Junta was thus transformed on 18 December of the same year into the new Junta Grande by the introduction of representatives from other provinces of Río de la Plata.

Foreign policy

The Primera Junta was concerned with the risk of Portuguese expansionism towards La Plata, either directly or through the Carlotist project. The diplomacy in Spain attempted to prevent the dispatch of a punitive army, limiting the armed conflicts to the royalists in Paraguay, the Upper Peru and the Banda Oriental. The Junta declared itself a natural ally of any city that revolts against the royalists; either those that did so in support of the May Revolution or those who revolted on their own (Chile, and Paraguay shortly after Belgrano's defeat). [7]

Britain, allied with Spain in the Napoleonic Wars, stayed neutral in the conflicts between patriots and royalists. Nevertheless, the British policy towards the conflict was to favour British trade as long as it did not conflict with the neutral policy. [7]


Related Research Articles

Argentine War of Independence

The Argentine War of Independence was fought from 1810 to 1818 by Argentine patriotic forces under Manuel Belgrano, Juan José Castelli and José de San Martín against royalist forces loyal to the Spanish crown. On July 9, 1816, an assembly met in San Miguel de Tucumán, declared full independence with provisions for a national constitution.

May Revolution 1810 revolution in Buenos Aires

The May Revolution was a week-long series of events that took place from May 18 to 25, 1810, in Buenos Aires, capital of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. This Spanish colony included roughly the territories of present-day Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and parts of Brazil. The result was the removal of Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros and the establishment of a local government, the Primera Junta, on May 25. The junta would eventually become the country of Argentina. It was the first successful revolution in the South American Independence process.

Junta Grande is the most common name for the executive government of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, that followed the incorporation of provincial representatives into the Primera Junta.

Mariano Moreno

Mariano Moreno was an Argentine lawyer, journalist, and politician. He played a decisive role in the Primera Junta, the first national government of Argentina, created after the May Revolution.

Cornelio Saavedra

Cornelio Judas Tadeo de Saavedra y Rodríguez was a military officer and statesman from the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. He was instrumental in the May Revolution, the first step of Argentina's independence from Spain, and was appointed president of the Primera Junta.

Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros

Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros y de la Torre (1756–1829) was a Spanish naval officer born in Cartagena. He took part in the Battle of Cape St Vincent and the Battle of Trafalgar, and in the Spanish resistance against Napoleon's invasion in 1808. He was later appointed Viceroy of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, replacing Santiago de Liniers. He disestablished the government Junta of Javier de Elío and quelled the Chuquisaca Revolution and the La Paz revolution. An open cabildo deposed him as viceroy during the May Revolution, but he attempted to be the president of the new government junta, thus retaining power. The popular unrest in Buenos Aires did not allow that, so he resigned. He was banished back to Spain shortly after that, and died in 1829.

Juan José Castelli

Juan José Castelli was an Argentine lawyer who was one of the leaders of the May Revolution, which led to the Argentine War of Independence. He led an ill-fated military campaign in Upper Peru.

Domingo French

Domingo María Cristóbal French was an Argentine revolutionary who took part in the May Revolution and the Argentine War of Independence.

Miguel de Azcuénaga

Miguel de Azcuénaga was an Argentine brigadier. Educated in Spain, at the University of Seville, Azcuénaga began his military career in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata and became a member of the Primera Junta, the first autonomous government of modern Argentina. He was shortly exiled because of his support to the minister Mariano Moreno, and returned to Buenos Aires when the First Triumvirate replaced the Junta. He held several offices since then, most notably being the first Governor intendant of Buenos Aires after the May Revolution. He died at his country house in 1833.

First Upper Peru campaign

The first Upper Peru campaign was a military campaign of the Argentine War of Independence, which took place in 1810. It was headed by Juan José Castelli, and attempted to expand the influence of the Buenos Aires May Revolution in Upper Peru. There were initial victories, such as in the Battle of Suipacha and the revolt of Cochabamba, but it was finally defeated during the Battle of Huaqui that returned Upper Peru to Royalist influence. Manuel Belgrano and José Rondeau would attempt other similarly ill-fated campaigns; the Royalists in the Upper Peru would be finally defeated by Sucre, whose military campaign came from the North supporting Simón Bolívar.

Juan Larrea (politician)

Juan Larrea was a Spanish businessman and politician in Buenos Aires during the early nineteenth century. He headed a military unit during the second British invasion of the Río de la Plata, and worked at the Buenos Aires Cabildo. He took part in the ill-fated Mutiny of Álzaga. Larrea and Domingo Matheu were the only two Spanish-born members of the Primera Junta, the first national government of Argentina.

Regiment of Patricians Regiment of the Argentine Army

The 1st Infantry Regiment "Los Patricios" is the oldest and one of the most prestigious regiments of the Argentine Army. The title is often shortened to the Patricians' Regiment. Since the 1990s the regiment has been designated as air assault infantry. It is also the custodian of the Buenos Aires Cabildo, the welcoming party for visiting foreign dignitaries to Argentina and the escort, and honor guard battalion for the City Government of Buenos Aires. Since 22 September 2010, the Regiment's headquarters building has been a National Historical Monument following a declaration by the Argentine government on the occasion of the country's bicentennial year.

Feliciano Chiclana

Feliciano Antonio Chiclana was an Argentine lawyer, soldier, and judge.

Manuel Alberti

Manuel Máximiliano Alberti was a priest from Buenos Aires, when the city was part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. He had a curacy at Maldonado, Uruguay during the British invasions of the Río de la Plata, and returned to Buenos Aires in time to take part in the May Revolution of 1810. He was chosen as one of the seven members of the Primera Junta, considered the first national government of Argentina. He supported most of the proposals of Mariano Moreno and worked at the Gazeta de Buenos Ayres newspaper. The internal disputes of the Junta had a negative effect on his health, and he died of a heart attack in 1811.

Domingo Matheu

Domingo Bartolomé Francisco Matheu was a Spanish-born Argentine businessman and politician. He was a member of the Primera Junta, the first national government of modern Argentina, and the second president in the end of the Junta Grande from August to September 1811.

The May Revolution was a series of revolutionary political and social events that took place during the early nineteenth century in the city of Buenos Aires, capital of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, a colony of the Spanish Crown which at the time contained the present-day nations of Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. The consequence of the revolution was that the head of the Viceroyalty, Viceroy Cisneros, was ousted from office, and role of government was assumed by the Primera Junta. There are many reasons, both local and international, that promoted such developments.

Historiography of the May Revolution

Historiographical studies of the May Revolution started in the second half of the 19th century in Argentina and have extended to modern day. All historiographical perspectives agree in considering the May Revolution as the turning point that gave birth to the modern nation of Argentina, and that the Revolution was unavoidable in 1810. The main topics of disagreement between Argentine historians are the specific weight of the diverse causes of the May Revolution, who were the leaders of it among the different involved parties, whenever there was popular support for it or not, and whenever the loyalty to the captive Spanish king Ferdinand VII was real or an elaborate masquerade to conceal pro-independence purposes.

Liniers Counter-revolution

The Liniers Counter-Revolution took place in the Spanish Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata after the May Revolution in 1810. The former viceroy, Santiago de Liniers, led an ill-fated counter-revolutionary attempt from the city of Córdoba, and it was quickly frustated by the patriotic forces of the newly formed Army of the North. Francisco Ortiz de Ocampo, the leader of the Army of the North, captured the leaders and dispatched them to Buenos Aires as prisoners, but, on the orders of the Primera Junta, they were intercepted and executed before arrival.

The Honours Suppression decree was a decree of the Primera Junta, first national government of Argentina, in 1810 which removed from its members the honours and privileges inherited from the former monarchic system. It was designed by the secretary Mariano Moreno.

The rise of the Argentine Republic was a process that took place in the first half of the 19th century in South America. The Republic has its origins in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, a colony of the Spanish Empire. The King of Spain appointed a viceroy to oversee the governance of the colony. The 1810 May Revolution deposed the viceregal representative and, along with the Argentine war of independence, started a process to replace the foreign monarchy with an indigenous republican state. All proposals to organize a local monarchy failed, and no local monarch was ever crowned.


  1. Saavedra, Cornelio (2009). Memoria autógrafa . Buenos Aires: Editorial del Nuevo Extremo. p. 59. ISBN   978-987-609-171-8. Spanish: A la verdad, quién era en aquel tiempo el que no juzgase que Napoleón triunfaría y realizaría sus planes con la España? Esto era lo que yo esperaba muy en breve, la oportunidad o tiempo que creía conveniente para dar el grito de libertad en estas partes. Esta era la breva que decía era útil esperar que madurase.
    At the hour of truth, who was there in that time that did not consider that Napoleon would triumph and realize his plans for Spain? This was what I expected soon, the chance or time I deemed convenient to give the freedom cry in those parts. This was the fig I said it was useful to wait to ripen.
  2. Pigna, Felipe (2007). "La Revolución de Mayo". Los mitos de la historia argentina (in Spanish) (26 ed.). Argentina: Grupo Editorial Norma. p. 236. ISBN   978-987-545-149-0. Spanish: Nadie ha podido reputar por delincuente a la nación entera, ni a los individuos que han abierto sus opiniones políticas. Si el derecho de conquista pertenece, por origen, al país conquistador, justo sería que la España comenzase por darle la razón al reverendo obispo abandonando la resistencia que hace a los franceses y sometiéndose, por los mismos principios con que se pretende que los americanos se sometan a las aldeas de Pontevedra. La razón y la regla tienen que ser iguales para todos. Aquí no hay conquistados ni conquistadores, aquí no hay sino españoles. Los españoles de España han perdido su tierra. Los españoles de América tratan de salvar la suya. Los de España que se entiendan allá como puedan y que no se preocupen, los americanos sabemos lo que queremos y adónde vamos. Por lo tanto propongo que se vote: que se subrogue otra autoridad a la del virrey que dependerá de la metrópoli si ésta se salva de los franceses, que será independiente si España queda subyugada.
  3. Galasso, Norberto, pp. 6–7
  4. Galasso, Norberto, pp. 11
  5. 1 2 Galasso, Norberto, pp. 12
  6. Galasso, Norberto, pp. 22
  7. 1 2 Abad de Santillán, p. 571