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Manuel Joaquín del Corazón de Jesús Belgrano

Other names/titles:
Gender: M
Ethnic origin: White

Biographical details

Born in 1770, he was Secretary of the Consulado, Buenos Aires, in 1794 and used his position to increase economic development in the Río de la Plata area. He led expeditions to Paraguay, 1810-11 and Upper Peru, 1812-1813, both failed. (Lynch, xiv)

His work reveals evidence of enlightenment ideas. (Lynch, ed., 258) His blue and white colours today form the Argentine flag. (Coester, 43)

His daughter, Manuela Monica, was born in Tucumán on 4 May 1819. (Sosa de Newton, 68-69)

When Belgrano returned from Europe he supported Genovesi and Galiani's theories and, with some modification, those of Quesnay and Adam Smith. (Chiaramonte, 359-360)

He advocated schools for women in 1797.

Mitre reproduces his thoughts on the education of women and the betterment of their social position (below). His Educación popular was published between 1775 and 1777. He advocated schools for both sexes in all the barrios of Buenos Aires and claimed that the well-being and virtue of an educated woman is the basis of sociability. (Mitre, Historia de Belgrano, 74, 76)

Piccirilli quotes Jean Adam Graaner, who comments that in 1816 the indigenous people were "como electrizado" by Belgrano's "nuevo proyecto" to establish "un gran imperio en la América meridional, gobernado por los descendientes de la familia imperial de los Incas". Some of these were living in Cuzco and were uniting in groups under the bandera del sol. "Están armándose y se cree que pronto se formará un ejército en el Alto Perú de Quito a Potosí, Lima y Cuzco." Juana Azurduy led one such group. (Piccirilli, 249)

On 6 July 1816 Belgrano met diputados from Tucumán in a secret session, and explained his new political ideas "abrevadas en Inglaterra". He explained that after the French revolution, there had been a tendency to favour republics, but after Napoleon's rule there had been a swing back towards monarchies. For Belgrano, "lo adecuado en adoptar una monarquía atemperada que, indudamente, facilitará el apoyo el reconocimiento para la independencia de América." He believed that independence would not solve the problems in the provinces, what was needed was a constitutional monarchy to support and sustain the revolution. He planned to found a dynasty and place an Inca on the throne. In that way the rights of those displaced by the colonisers would be restored at the same time gaining the support of those living in the interior of the country. There would be a royalist army of indigenous troops. When news of this plan reached upper Peru, there was a great influx of support for the "filas enemigas" and thus easily strengthened the army. Martín Miguel de Güemes, the representatives in Upper Peru and other provincial diputados all supported Belgrano's plan, but Buenos Aires was against any moves to make Cuzco the capital of the independent empire. Although San Martín was a republican, he saw the merits of Belgrano's plan as a means of stopping the chaos and tried to persuade the diputados to accept it. On 9 July 1816 independence from Spain was declared and the creation was pronounced of Las Provincias Unidas de Sud América. This would tear the violent ties to the kings of Spain, to recuperate the rights, to invest the high character of a free and independent nation, with full justice. On 21 July independence from Spain and from any other foreign domination was declared before the Tucumán civil and military authorities. Belgrano's flag was adopted. His idea of restoring the Inca dynasty was discussed at several sessions before being indefinitely postponed by problems in the provinces. Belgrano's sentiments were ambiguous: "Su intención de estadistica le señala que la incipiente nación no sólo necesita de libertad. La unidad y la cohesión bajo un forma de gobierno son impresinibles para lograr la verdad emancipación. Sólo adoptando una monarquía constitucional, único sistema viable en el momento, se lograría evitar un mayor derramiento de sangre." (Aguirre, 132-137)

On 10 July 1816, Belgrano met María Dolores Helguero at a dance to celebrate the victory of Tucumán that had occurred the day before. She was aged 18, from a distinguished Tucumán family, with dark eyes and fair hair. In February 1819 Belgrano left with 5,500 men to suppress a caudillo uprising in the interior leaving Helguero pregnant. Her parents married her to a man from Catamarca named Rivas and her daughter Manuela Mónica del Corazón de Jesús was born on 4 May 1819. In August 1819, Belgrano, seriously ill, returned to Tucumán to see his daughter. He died in 1820. (Aguirre, 136)

He studied law at the University of Salamanca, where he read Rousseau, Montesquieu and Filangieri. He absorbed Adam Smith's new economic ideas and was in favour of education for women and the teaching of boys and girls. (Aguirre, 11, 13, 25)

Life Events

Born 1770He was born in Buenos Aires on 3 June 1770.
Other 1794He promoted the development of the Río de la Plata region.
Other 1797He advocated schools for women in 1797.
Other 1810He led an unsuccessful expedition to Paraguay, 1810-11.
Other 1812He led an unsuccessful expedition to Bolivia, 1812-13.
Died 1820He died at his family home on 20 June 1820.


Lynch, John, (1986), The Spanish American Revolutions 1808-1826

Lynch, John, (1994), Latin American Revolutions

Coester, Alfred, (1919), The Literary History of Spanish America

Sosa de Newton, Lily, (1986), Diccionario biográfico de mujeres argentinas

Halperín-Donghi, Tulio, (1972), Historia argentina, de la conquista a la independencia

Mitre, Bartolomé, (1927), Historia de Belgrano

Piccirilli, Ricardo, (1957), San Martín y la política de los pueblos

Aguirre, Gisela, et al, (1999), Manuel Belgrano, Colección dirigida por Félix Luna


Letter: Carta

Essay: Ensayo

Essay: Seguna memoria


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Gendering Latin American Independence

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