15 little-known facts about Sarmiento
- He founded the National Commission of Popular Libraries (ConaBip). He was responsible for creating and developing this body, which until now promotes the strengthening of popular libraries as civil society organizations. Sarmiento wasn’t called Domingo. The name on his birth certificate is Faustino Valentín Quiroga Sarmiento. He was named Valentín because he was born on February 14, although he was registered the next day. His family always called him Domingo, because his mother was devoted to Santo Domingo.
- The surname of his ancestors was “Quiroga Sarmiento”, that designation reached the eldest of his uncles, José Manuel Eufrasio Quiroga Sarmiento. But both his father Clemente and his other 10 brothers were registered without the “Quiroga”. It is said that this was due to the fact that the surname Sarmiento was dying out.
- Domingo grew up in the house of his mother, Doña Paula Albarracín, the one he built because of his work as a weaver. Its original loom can be seen at the Casa Natal de Sarmiento, in San Juan.
- Sarmiento learned to read at the age of 4. His first teachers were his father José Clemente and his uncle José Eufrasio Quiroga Sarmiento. In 1816 he entered one of the so-called “Schools of the Fatherland”. When he finished his studies, he applied for a scholarship to enter the Colegio de Ciencias Morales, in Buenos Aires, which was not granted. From then on, he was self-taught. An engineer friend helped him with mathematics, his uncle José de Oro Albarracín (brother of Friar Justo Santa María de Oro) helped him with Latin and Theology. And he learned French on his own.
- María Jesús del Canto, mother of her only biological daughter, met her in a school during one of her four exiles in Chile. She was his student and he fell in love; Emilia Faustina Ana was born the following year. Mary Jesus died in childbirth on July 18, 1832. Being orphaned by her mother, Faustina grew up with her grandmother Paula and her aunts. Especially because Domingo never stayed too long anywhere.
- Sarmiento planted the first wicker rod in the country, did it in the Paraná Delta. He is also credited with bringing the first seeds of pecan walnut from the United States, to the Delta. According to his grandson, during his last year of life, Procer sent wicker rods by mail to promote his production.
- In Chile, he led the School of Preceptors, the first Latin American institution specialized in preparing teachers.
- In 1845, Domingo Fidel was born in Chile, the son of the Chilean Domingo Castro y Calvo and the Argentine Benita Martínez Pastoriza, who married Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, who gave his surname to the child in 1848. The marriage lasted only one year, but the adopted son — known as “Dominguito” — was very much loved by Sarmiento. In September 1866, during the Battle of Curupayty, Dominguito was wounded to death. At that time, Sarmiento was minister plenipotentiary of Argentina in the United States. The news of his son’s death plunged him into a deep depression, resigned from the diplomatic post and returned to Buenos Aires. He then wrote the biography of his son: Vida de Dominguito.
- Between 1845 and 1847 Sarmiento undertook a journey through Europe, Africa and America to study the educational system of the countries he visited. As a result of that trip he wrote the books: La educación popular, Viajes — a series of letters where he was telling his experiences — and the Diario de Expensos, a little book that Sarmiento himself defined as “one of my best memories”, with annotations in several languages.
- He contributed a great deal to his native province when he began his tenure as governor of San Juan in 1862. In two years he incorporated street lighting, took care of the cobblestone of the streets and opened and widened several of them. In addition, it forested and prepared the topographic plan of the province.
- He founded the National Commission of Popular Libraries (ConaBip). He was responsible for creating and developing this body, which until now promotes the strengthening of popular libraries as civil society organizations.
- He organized the first national census in 1869. As a result, there were 1,836,490 inhabitants in the country, 8 per cent of all European immigrants, 70 per cent rural population and 71 per cent of Argentines are illiterate.
- Sarmiento also started meteorology in the country. During his tenure as an Argentine representative in the United States, he managed to get the astronomer Benjamin Apthorp Gould to travel to the country to create an astronomical observatory, but when Gould arrived, Sarmiento had already erected the Astronomical Observatory of Cordoba, which then acquired international relevance. Both in
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