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Mariano Moreno: revolution and books

The blood of a new Argentine republic was raging in his veins, Mariano Moreno was one of the first ideologues of the nation to come.

Mariano Moreno

The sea and  Mariano Moreno  were predestined. As well as a nascent country and a fiery lawyer who, in just six months as Secretary of the First Board, boosted the economy and education, with the north of a free and sovereign people. A post that  General San Martín  would resume on his arrival, a year after  Moreno  's death in 1811. And then, the generation of  Alberdi and Sarmiento  would resume, especially the Sanjuanino, who with his skills as a journalist and polemist could have been one more brunette of the Patriotic Society of 1812.It was during  Moreno 's administration, antecedent of  Sarmiento 's educational policies in the Buenos Aires School Directorate, that the schools that depended on the Cabildo were transformed into  Schools of the Homeland and distributed among the poor the”Treaty on Man's Obligations”, an inspiring text in the construction of future citizens. In addition, a book that the wealthy classes had to “buy in the houses of sale” and served as a common basis for teachers in the qualification, and was distinguished by the Board's mentions of the best averages.

There were only four schools in the Board's orbit, and more than thirty private schools, but in a difficult situation, without organization, according to the new times. Fresh in the memory of  Moreno , and so soon measures to support education, was the closing by the Viceroy of the school of drawing, sculpture and nautical, in 1796, and that had been the basis of “excellent young people who were able to direct the boats to Europe, Lima, Havana... until who sent ignorance and went back sadly”, tells his brother  Manuel Moreno  in  Life and Memories of Mariano Moreno  (1812). And in that spirit, the decree establishing a  Public Library of Buenos Aires , then  National Library , on September 13, 1810. From 1954, this date was established as the  Day of the Librarian in Argentina .

“The junta is reduced to the sad need to raise everything,” it appears in  Gazeta de Buenos Ayres number 15, on Thursday, September 13, less than five months after the May Revolution, and in a newspaper that was an organ of the Revolution under the direction of vocal Manuel Alberti, reads: “The Board has decided to form a Public Library, in which to provide letter lovers with a safe resource to increase their knowledge. The resulting benefits of a public library are notorious... every book house attracts writers with irresistible force, curiosity incites those who have been born with positive resistance to letters, and the concurrence of sages with those who wish to be, produces a reciprocal manifestation of lights and knowledge, which are increased by discussion, and affirmed by the record of books, which are at hand to settle disputes,” closes a text that believes in the strength of the word to create worlds of freedom, and in that he also anticipates  Sarmiento , and at the same time a preamble of  Nicolas Avellaneda  in his role as father of popular libraries half a century later.

“The library complements the school and gives life to it by serving as an assistant to the teacher and as an incentive for curiosity... Because it is the district library that puts into the hands of the inhabitant in distant towns, attractive and useful books generalizing knowledge wherever there is a man capable of receive them,” said  President Sarmiento  in the foundations of the Law of Popular Libraries, whose text  Avellaneda  wrote in 1870.

However, in  Mariano Moreno , a man of law and not of sabers, despite accepting death sentences for counterrevolutionaries like  Liniers , without any trial, he feared that this new revolutionary state would engender a militarized population eager for power. In the same decree of the foundation of the Library, Tulio Halperin Donghi quotes: “The peoples buy the glory of arms at a high price; if the magistrate does not pledge his power and is zealous to guard the fateful term that progressively leads such a dangerous state, to the sweetness of customs the ferocity of a barbarian people happens... Buenos Aires is threatened with such terrible fate; and four years of glory — since the armed of the militias in the British Invasions of 1806 — have deafly undermined the illustration and virtues that produced them. Necessity made the San Carlos College temporarily destined for troop barracks; the young people began to enjoy a freedom that is all the more dangerous, the more pleasant, and attracted by the shine of the weapons, which had produced our glories, they wanted to be military, before preparing as men.rdquo;, ends up a certain diagnosis.

It was known that the warlords and their armies, whether federal or unitary, were almost all heroes of Independence from a very early age. They were soldiers before citizens.  Moreno  warned the danger and took concrete actions, such as the famous egalitarian decree against honors to the members of the Board, which concealed two purposes. To undermine the strength of  Saavedra , a political rival who retracted the revolutionary step and, at the same time, demonstrate the power of civil society in the face of arms. Saavedra  would accuse a late Moreno,  and his emancipatory doctrine: “The maxims of our Robespierre are detestable”, although a few years later it is the  General San Martín  who seems to rehabilitate Moreno's thought: “I wish we had a Cromwell or Robespierre, who at the expense of some, gave the freedom and splendor that our people are so easy.” “I don't know what a dismal thing is said to me in the journey,”  Moreno  confesses before embarking on the ship “Fame” and seals his destination at sea with life. As soon as his wife Maria Guadalupe Cuenca, born in present-day Bolivia, receives a box with a black fan.

 The sea and fire of Moreno 

 Mariano Moreno  could have been born in Chile  . But a storm in front of Cape Horn wrecked the ship where Manuel Moreno and Argumosa was traveling. And Don Manuel decided to settle in Buenos Aires, an employee of the Cajas Reales, and married to Ana María Valle, a porteña, had several children. The first, Mariano, came into the world on 23 September 1778 in the bosom of a humble family. However, “big eyes with pupils full of light and the gaze full of astonishment plus a prodigious memory and intelligence” surpassed the obstacles, a smallpox that left him traces and a rheumatism that never abandoned him, and managed to study law at the prestigious University of Chuquisaca having attended the San Carlos School only as a listener for lack of means.

The generosity of Mariano Medrano and Fray Cayetano Rodríguez opened the Buenos Aires libraries to him, as did Canon Terrazas in his days in Upper Peru. And along with the libertarian theories of French and English, especially Filangieri and Smith, he found love in Mary Guadalupe. He returned with his family to Buenos Aires, installed on Calle De la Piedad at 100 — today Bartolomé Mitre —, and was one of 49 lawyers and employees of the Royal Audience who were running for defense against the British invaders of 1806, but later refrained from participating in the fighting. During these years he acquires renown in several lawsuits as an adviser to the Cabildo, where comes the much-cited “Representation of the Labradors and Landowners”, a first outline of free trade, and other public good causes unpublished in the Colonia such as the defense of the rights of a woman whose husband intends to do dispossess her of a legitimate inheritance.  Moreno  says in his pleadings that the husband could manage his spouse's property, “only when he has voluntarily given it to him.”It was necessary to wait until Law 17711 of 1969 to realize this Morenian thought.

 May Revolution  Week doesn't find Moreno active in the Cabildo, only on May 22 who is “forced” by Martín Rodríguez and remains unspoken, “curled up in a corner, cabizbajo, the night was cold and wet,” recalls Vicente López.So how does a lawyer closest to the Spaniards of Felix de Alzaga end up being the most revolutionary wing of the patriots? Even their inclusion in the First Board was late and at the behest of  Matheu and Larrea , who were to defend the realistic interests. One of his main biographers  Gustavo Levene , and in a line that might be part of José Carlos Chiaramonte, imagines three axes that coincide with the current political situation of the time:  Moreno knew the Indian laws and the colonial economic system, in fact, he quickly freed trade with the brand new ports of Ensenada, Maldonado and Rio Negro — exclusive to slave ships —, the skills of political writer, there was no written word of the first patriots that did not come out of the informed and sharp pen of the young doctor, and finally,this youth: “How to deny that if revolution is an urgent search for the new, young men... are best suited to push history without hesitation,” says Levene. In those few months he laid the future foundations for a constitutionalist thought, which would mature after Caseros, and Republican, under the slogan “dangerous freedom is preferable to quiet servitude.” And, moreover, and that is already in the mist of history, inspired the Morenian legend of the radical “Plan of Operations”, that contained the establishment of a state in permanent American revolution that would extend to “the Rio Grande”, and the transfers to the English, between various controversial items. The historian Carlos Sagreti ended the centennial debate by demonstrating that it was the result of a Spanish counterrevolutionary in the court of Rio de Janeiro in 1814, who planned to join Ferdinand VII to recover the colonies.

 Moreno, until victory always 

  To achieve the revolutionary ideal it is necessary to resort to very radical means,” said an increasingly lonely Moreno in the Junta Grande in late 1810.  Castelli and Belgrano , their slopes in the independence sector, marched organizing armies in the provinces, “where the adhesion of the inhabitants tells us that we now command in our hearts.” It only receives representatives from the provinces, although not to discuss in a congress prior to emancipation, but to integrate the government still linked to Spain. Moreno resigned, although he remained in the position of secretary until almost the end of the year, and tried to insubordinate the Southern Star Regiment on January 1, 1811, along with French. He fears for his life, dreams that he will be killed suffocated to “cordel” and asks Saavedra for the media, and the letters, representing the revolutionary Buenos Aires in London.   He dies on the high seas in front of Brazil, also surrounded by legends and myths of an alleged murder, and is thrown with honors into the Atlantic. Who accompanies him is   Tomás Guido ,  future “lancero” of the  General St. Martin .

“Moreno did not resign himself to waiting for the result, but planned it, and wanted to hasten the decisions to negotiate later, if necessary, on the faits accompli,” said the socialist Alfredo Palacios on the centenary of his death. With his death, said Jorge Abelardo Ramos, “the Morenist tendency, which was the civil and military generation of the great Hispano-Creole revolution, was left without its base,” and Juan María Gutiérrez seems to expand: “The people had not achieved their independence, but that great patriot prepared the American future which is today its final way of being”. “Brotherhood can save us from inner passions, which are more terrible enemies for a state that attempts to establish itself than the armies of foreign powers... The people must not be content with being fair, but must try to be fiercely”, are some of the maxims by  Mariano Moreno , a man ahead of his time and Argentine problems.

Sources: Goldman, N.   The town wants to know what it is about! Hidden history of the May Revolution .  Buenos Aires: South American. 2009; Halperin Donghi, T.   Revolution and War. Formation of a leading elite in Creole Argentina .  Buenos Aires: XXI Century. 2002; Chiaramonte, J.C.   Cities, provinces and states: origins of the Argentine Nation .  Buenos Aires: emecé. 2007

Publication Date: 16/09/2020

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