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Did you know Charles Darwin was in Santa Fe?

Darwin, a great celebrity of universal history, walked around the province and described the Argentines of his time.

As we are
Charles Darwin

We all know, more or less, who Charles Darwin was. Many times criticized for his theories, English is responsible for the idea of evolutionism (he did not create it, but he was the one who made the main contributions), which is still today very present in the imaginary of all mankind. What not everyone knows (or, at least I, had no idea) is that about 15 years before the publication of his famous  The Origin of Species , Darwin  was on Argentine soil. One of the places he passed was Santa Fe, and he even left his impressions about our lands, its fauna and its own people.  In this article we review that journey of the famous English researcher and share some pearls in the style “So you see”, about what he told about Santa Fe.

Starting the 1830s, Robert Fitz Roy was the initiator of the efforts for young Darwin to agree to be part of the crew. The scientist, who would return to England already being a celebrity, because he regularly sent writings to his homeland as his research progressed,  remained in Argentine territory between July 1833 and June 1834.  During that famous stay, he met Juan Manuel de Rosas in August 1833 and toured several parts of our country, and from his writings about the present province of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, northern Patagonia and Uruguay abound stories about the presence and the threat of the Indians , constant concern of the gauchos and soldiers with whom he lived. Darwin recounts several situations in which, although he finally did not seem to be at risk, the fear suffered and obsession with the Aboriginal attack are clearly perceived.

 An Englishman in the land of caudillos 

During the sea trip from England he shared his time with several natives that Fitzroy was returning to their lands (he had taken them to England on a previous trip).However, contact with fueguinos feared Indians, a feeling that is constantly perceived in his Diary.

In Santa Fe, Darwin visited Coronda on October 2, 1833. On that day he wrote:  “We crossed Coronda, the admirable gardens that surround it make it one of the most beautiful villages I have ever seen...” . A pride, for the land of marathons and strawberries . English made magnificent descriptions of several native peoples. He noticed that Indian women were treated very badly, with remarkable passion for detail he noted the time they needed to round a stone and transform it into an integral element of the boleadoras.

It is unmissable what the researcher says when he realizes  Santafesino leader Estanislao López.  “ He's been in power for seventeen years. This stability is due to its tyrannical procedures;  tyranny seems to be better suited to these countries than republicanism .” And, about the place and their own experiences: “The funeral silence of the plain, the alert dogs, and the gypsy group of gauchos making their beds around the fire, have left in my mind an indelible picture of this first night, which I will never forget.” More brutal, more terrible, perhaps because of their likelihood, are these other mentions about the national territory: “Almost all public servants can be bribed” and “... in another fifty years there will not be a wild Indian to the north of the Rio Negro ”.

Such a visit to our lands deserves a second chapter, which we recommend you to read.

Publication Date: 03/01/2021

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