Juan Bautista Alberdi Biography

Juan Bautista Alberdi (29 August 1810 – 19 June 1884) ( 19 August 1810 – 19 June 1884).


Political leader, Lawyer, Economist, Jurist, Diplomat and Argentine Writer, considered one of the most important and influential intellectuals of his nation and the Latin American continent, during the nineteenth century.

He was strongly linked to the Generation of 37, as well as one of the founders of the organizations Salon Literario y Asociación de Mayo. He is also considered the founder of the Legal Historicism of his country, as well as intellectual author of the Argentine Constitution of 1853, which was based on his work Bases for the political organization of the Argentine Confederation.


Early life

Juan Alberdi was born on August 29, 1810 in San Miguel de Tucumán, in the regards of the marriage between the Basque merchant Salvador Alberdi and his wife Josefa Aráoz y Balderrama. She lost her mother at birth when she died of complications at the time of delivery.

His father died only twelve years later, in 1822, at which point Alberdi became under the care of his older brothers. Alberdi’s family was a supporter of the May Revolution, in fact his father maintained frequent contact with the commander of the Army of the North, Manuel Belgrano.

He began his studies at the College of Moral Sciences, in the city of Buenos Aires. However, in 1824, Alberdi left his studies, to be employed as a salesman in the home of a former collaborator of his father, named Juan B. Maldes.

However, he soon repented, entering the jurisprudence department of the University of Buenos Aires, from where he moved to the University of Córdoba, where he again took a break in his training.

At that time, he had also developed an interest in Music, eventually composing several classical works for flute and piano, for his friends. Likewise, writing had become a strong interest, eventually completing his first work, in 1832, which he titled The Spirit of Music.

The Literary Hall

In 1834, he moved to Córdoba, where he obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree. Returning to his native Tucumán, he served as a collaborator of the governor of that time Alejandro Hereida, who at one point offered him the possibility of enabling him by Decree as a Lawyer, an alternative that Alberdi rejected, arguing his desire to obtain his doctorate in Buenos Aires.

Upon his arrival in that city, in 1835, he began to be part of the organization founded by Marcos Sastre, the Literary Hall, where he had the opportunity to share with other young intellectuals such as Miguel Cané (father) and José Mármol, who identified with the ideals of liberal democracy, declaring themselves continuations of the May Revolution, and which would historically be known as the generation of 37, which offered as a proposal a mixed regime, to a country polarized by unitary and federal.

For his part, in 1837, Alberdi wrote his doctoral thesis The Preliminary Fragment to the Study of Law, which is considered to be the foundational work of Legal Historicalism in Argentina. Also, during this year, he founded the newspaper La Moda, in which he wrote under the pseudonym Figarillo.

Years of Exile

In 1838, the Literary Hall was forced to dissolve, in the face of the persecution of the regime of the governor of the Province of Buenos Aires, Juan Manuel de Rosas. This caused its members to flee into exile.

Alberdi himself moved to Montevideo, where he would work as a journalist, a rostrum from which he would support the French military intervention against the government of Rosas, working for several newspapers, among which were The Initiator and El Corsair.

He also devoted himself to law, also having the opportunity to serve for a time as secretary to General Juan Lavalle. From this time are his plays The Revolution of May and The giant Poppies. In 1843 he was forced to flee again from the regime of Rosas, during the military occupation of Montevideo, ordered by Rosas a Oribe.

This time, Alberdi escapes to Europe, disguised as a French sailor. Upon his arrival he settled in Paris, where he had the opportunity to meet General José de San Martín, while devote his stay to the study of Mostesquieu’s work, The Spirit of Laws. However, his exile lasted only a year.

Main contributions and final years

In 1844 he returned to America, to settle in Valparaiso, where he obtained his Doctorate in Jurisprudence. He also published in several Chilean newspapers, using his old pseudonym Figarillo.

After Rosas, in 1852, Alberdi devoted himself to writing his work Bases and Starting Points for the Political Organization of the Argentine Republic, which almost constituted a draft of the Argentine National Constitution, finally promulgated by the constituents, gathered in Santa Fe, in 1853.

In 1855 he returned to Europe, in order to carry out diplomatic missions for the government of President Justo José de Urquiza, which is successful, achieving that Europe recognized the Argentine Confederation, promulgated under the new Constitution. In 1862, the change of government forced him to cease his duties as diplomat.

In 1878 he returned to Argentina, where he was elected as deputy to the National Congress for Tucumán, a position from which he tried to mediate in 1880 in the process of presidential succession unleashed by the uprising of the governor of Buenos Aires, Carlos Tejedor, in front of the President Nicolás Avellaneda, which leads to the triumph of Avellaneda and the establishment of Buenos Aires as the capital of the nation.

In a weak state of health and in the face of the Senate’s refusal to avellaneda’s proposal to reappoint him as a diplomat, he returns to France, where he finally died at the age of seventy-three in Neuilly-sur-Seine, on 19 June 1884, leaving as a legacy seventeen works fundamental to the political and legal history of his nation and the American continent.

Image source: corrientesenfoco.com.ar

Juan Bautista Alberdi Biography
Source: Education  
August 14, 2019


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