May Revolution - Aftermath


Buenos Aires endured the whole Spanish American Wars of independence without being reconquered by royalist armies or successful royalist counter-revolutions. However, it faced several internal conflicts. The May Revolution lacked a clear leader as other regions of Latin America; the secretary Mariano Moreno led the initial phase of the government, but he was removed shortly afterwards.

The Council of Regency, the Royal Audiencia of Buenos Aires and the peninsulars opposed the new situation. The Royal Audiencia secretly swore allegiance to the Council of Regency a month later and sent communiqués to the other cities of the Viceroyalty, to request them to deny recognition to the new government. To put an end to these activities, the Junta assembled Cisneros and all the members of the Royal Audiencia on the pretext that their lives were in danger, and sent them into exile aboard the British ship Dart. Captain Mark Brigut Larrea was instructed to avoid American ports and deliver all of them directly to the Canary Islands. The Junta then appointed a new Audiencia composed entirely of criollos loyal to the revolution.

Every city in the territory of modern Argentina other than Córdoba endorsed the Primera Junta. The cities of the Upper Peru, however, did not take a position, owing to the recent outcomes of the Chuquisaca and La Paz Revolutions. Asunción del Paraguay rejected the Junta and swore loyalty to the Council of Regency. The Banda Oriental, under Francisco Javier de Elío, remained a royalist stronghold.

Former Viceroy Santiago de Liniers organized a counter-revolution in Córdoba, and this became the first military campaign of the independent government. Despite the importance of Liniers himself, and his prestige as a popular hero for his role when the British invaded, the population of Córdoba preferred to support the revolution. This reduced the power of the counter-revolutionary army by means of desertions and sabotage. Liniers's troops were quickly defeated by the forces led by Francisco Ortiz de Ocampo. Ocampo refused to shoot the captive Liniers; hence the execution ordered by the Junta was carried out by Juan José Castelli. After the victory, the Primera Junta sent military expeditions to many other cities, to demand support and the election of representatives to it.

Montevideo, which had a historical rivalry with Buenos Aires, opposed the Primera Junta and the Council of Regency declared it the new capital of the Viceroyalty, along with Francisco Javier de Elío as the new Viceroy. The city was well defended, so it could easily resist an invasion. Peripheral cities in the Banda Oriental acted contrary to Montevideo's will and supported the Buenos Aires Junta. José Gervasio Artigas led them, and kept Montevideo under siege. The final defeat of the Montevidean royalists was carried out by Carlos María de Alvear and William Brown.

The Captaincy General of Chile followed a process analogous to that of the May Revolution, and elected a Government Junta that inaugurated the brief period known as Patria Vieja. The Junta was defeated in 1814 at the Battle of Rancagua, and the subsequent Reconquista of Chile would make it a royalist stronghold once more. The Andes provided an effective natural barrier between the Argentine revolutionaries and Chile, so there was no military confrontation between them until the Crossing of the Andes, led by José de San Martín in 1817, a campaign that resulted in the defeat of the Chilean royalists.

The Primera Junta increased in size when it incorporated the representatives sent by the provinces. From then on, the Junta was renamed the Junta Grande. It was dissolved shortly after the June 1811 defeat of the Argentine troops at the Battle of Huaqui, and two successive triumvirates exercised executive power over the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. In 1814, the second triumvirate was replaced by the authority of the Supreme Director. Meanwhile, Martín Miguel de Güemes contained the royalist armies sent from the Viceroyalty of Peru at Salta, while San Martín advanced towards the royalist stronghold of Lima by sea, on a Chilean–Argentine campaign. The war for independence gradually shifted towards northern South America. From 1814, Argentina descended into civil war.

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