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Domingo Faustino Sarmiento

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

Biographical details

Born in 1811, he was a member of the “Generación del ’37”. He had a bitter split with Alberdi after Rosas fell in 1852. (Shumway.) His belief in White European superiority was part of his opposition to Rosas whose supporters were mestizos, pardos and blacks from the middle and lower classes. “Explicit racial overtones” can be perceived in his biography of Angel “El Chacho Peñaloza”. This was also the case inCivilization and Barbarism. Katra points out that such attitudes were typical of his class at that time. (Katra, 31.)

He held a polemic with Andres Bello in the Chilean newspapers El Mercurio and La Revista de Valparaíso in the 1840s defending Romanticism and a renovated Hispanic American language. (Katra, 69.)

Sarmiento visited Mariquita Sánchez in 1845, with a letter of introduction from Esteban Echeverría (Sáenz Quesada, 207. )

In 1837, Sastre, Alberdi and Juan María Gutierrez founded the Salón del ’37, a Buenos Aires based salón literario. This was also known as Marcos Sastre’s Salón Literario. It was composed of a group of young intellectuals who were dissatisfied with Rosas’s infiltration/ control of the University. They met in Sastre's library to design a project of national conscience and liberal reforms to bring about Rosas’s downfall. It had about 50 members, among them Vicente López, and Esteban Echeverría. They also devised the cultural programme implemented by Sarmiento. (Denegri, 120.) It lasted only for a few months due to Sastre’s approval of Rosas for having brought order and peace to Argentina. (Katra, 48.)

He believed that women instinctively knew how to educate and care for their children, and that women should be taught greatness and virtue in order to create great and virtuous men. He maintained women had will, reason, and passions and were equally as capable as men of studying. (Knaster, 129.)

He had a long-standing relationship with Dalmacio Vélez Sársfield (one daughter, Aurelia). He was married to Benita Martínez Pastoriza (one daughter, Faustina). (Knaster, 20)

He was in exile in Chile in 1831-36. After his return to San Juan, in 1836, he opened the Colegio de Santa Rosa de América, a school for young ladies in 1839. He travelled to the United States, Europe and North Africa, inspecting schools from 1845-48. (McQuade, 755-756)

He married Benita Martínez Pastoriza in Chile on 19 May 1848. They and Sarmiento's daughter from his first marriage, Faustina, lived in Yungay in a property she had inherited. The marriage broke down in 1862 after Sarmiento's affair with Aurelia Vélez. Sarmiento disinherited her on the grounds that she did not need his money, but she managed to obtain half of his wealth. (Sosa de Newton, 393-394)

The structure of Civilización y barbarie shows influence of Tocqueville, Herder, and Montesquieu. Franco explains that Sarmiento chose to depict Quiroga because he knew him, and drew on his own memories and the anecdotes of others when writing about him. It is Romantic, but like Echeverría's La cautiva, nature is barbaric, whereas the city is civilized. (Franco, 42-46)

He died in 1888.

Life Events

Born 1811He was born 15 February 1811.
Other 1831He was in exile in Chile from 1831-36.
Other 1837He co-founded the Salón del '37.
Other 1839He established a school for girls in San Juán.
Other 1840He fled to Chile from Argentina.
Other 1845He travelled to the United States, Europe and North Africa inspecting schools.
Married 1848He married Benita Martínez Pastoriza in Chile on 19 May 1848.
Other 1862His marriage to Benita Martínez Pastoriza broke down.
Died 1888He died in Asunción, Paraguay, on 11 September 1888.


Katre, William H., (1996), The Argentine Generation of 37, Echeverría, Alberdi, Sarmiento, Mitre

Sáenz Quesada, María, (1996), Mariquita Sánchez, Vida política y sentimental

Denegri, Francesca, (1996), El Abanico y la Cigarerra: La primera generación de mujeres ilustradas en el Perú, 1860-1895

Knaster, Meri, (1977), Women in Spanish America: An Annotated Bibliography from Pre-Conquest to Contemporary Times

Shumway, Nicolas, (1991), The Invention of Argentina

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

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

Smith, Verity, (1997), Encyclopedia of Latin American Literature

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

R.O. Jones, (1973), Spanish American Literature Since Independence


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