May Revolution - Prelude - Liniers Government

Liniers Government

After the British invasion of 1806, Santiago de Liniers successfully reconquered Buenos Aires. The population did not allow Rafael de Sobremonte to continue as Viceroy. He had escaped to Cordoba with the public treasury while the battle was still in progress. A law enacted in 1778 required the treasury to be moved to a safe location in the case of a foreign attack, but Sobremonte was still seen as a coward by the population. The Royal Audiencia of Buenos Aires did not allow his return to Buenos Aires and elected Liniers, acclaimed as a popular hero, as an interim Viceroy. This was an unprecedented action, the first time that a Spanish viceroy was deposed by local government institutions, and not by the King of Spain himself; King Charles IV ratified the appointment at a later time. Liniers armed the entire population of Buenos Aires, including criollos and slaves, and defeated a second British invasion attempt in 1807.

The Liniers administration was popular among criollos, but not among peninsulars such as the merchant Martín de Álzaga and the Governor of Montevideo, Francisco Javier de Elío. They requested the Spanish authorities appoint a new viceroy. In the wake of the outbreak of the Peninsular War, de Elío created the Junta of Montevideo, which would scrutinise all the orders from Buenos Aires and reserve the right to ignore them, but did not openly deny the authority of the Viceroy or declare Montevideo independent.

Martín de Álzaga began a mutiny to remove Liniers. On January 1, 1809, an open cabildo (an extraordinary meeting of vecinos, prominent people of the city) chaired by Álzaga demanded the resignation of Liniers and the appointment of a local junta. The Spanish militia and a group of people summoned by the meeting gathered to support the rebellion. A small number of criollos, notably Mariano Moreno, supported the mutiny, but most of them did not. They felt that Álzaga wanted to remove the Viceroy to avoid his political authority while keeping the social differences between criollos and peninsulars unchanged. The riot was quickly routed when criollo militias led by Cornelio Saavedra surrounded the plaza and dispersed the insurgents. As a result of the failed mutiny, the rebel militias were disarmed. This included all peninsular militias, and the power of the criollos increased as a result. The leaders of the plot, with the exception of Moreno, were exiled to Carmen de Patagones. Javier de Elío freed them and gave them political asylum at Montevideo.

Read more about this topic:  May Revolution, Prelude

Famous quotes containing the word government:

    What makes the United States government, on the whole, more tolerable—I mean for us lucky white men—is the fact that there is so much less of government with us.... But in Canada you are reminded of the government every day. It parades itself before you. It is not content to be the servant, but will be the master; and every day it goes out to the Plains of Abraham or to the Champs de Mars and exhibits itself and toots.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)