Avellaneda, Nicolás (1837–1885)

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Avellaneda, Nicolás (1837–1885)

Nicolás Remigio Aurelio Avellaneda, who served as president of Argentina from 1874 to 1880, was born in Tucumán. When he was four years old his father, Marco Avellaneda, a prominent member of the opposition party to the dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas, was executed. After studies at the University of Córdoba, Avellaneda returned to his native province and founded the newspaper Eco del Norte. In 1857 he moved to Buenos Aires, where he was active as a journalist and also earned a law degree. He taught political economy at the University of Buenos Aires School of Law, and in 1865 published his most important book, Estudio sobre las leyes de tierras públicas (Study on the Laws of Public Lands).

Elected as a deputy to the provincial parliament, he resigned to become a minister in the government of Adolfo Alsina (the governor of the province of Buenos Aires). In 1868 President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento named Avellaneda a national minister of justice and public instruction, and he became a key figure in the cabinet. In 1874 he was elected president, but his opponent, former President Bartolomé Mitre, led a revolt against the election. The revolt was finally defeated, and Mitre was sent to jail. In 1877 Avellaneda decreed an amnesty and launched a policy of national reconciliation. As president he continued Sarmiento's policy of expanding primary schooling and improving the national system of higher education. The 1873 economic crisis prompted him to initiate a policy protecting local industry and drastically reducing public expenditures. In 1878–1879 his minister of war, Julio A. Roca, conducted the Conquest of the Desert (the conquest of lands in the hands of the native populations, encompassing the whole Patagonia). Roca was then designated the successor of Avellaneda. Before completing his term, Avellaneda declared the city of Buenos Aires a federal district; as a result of this decree, the province of Buenos Aires would lose control over the customhouse, its main source of revenue. When Carlos Tejedor, the governor of the province, rebelled, Avellaneda left the capital and marched to Belgrano, a suburb, where he organized a counter-offensive. He defeated the rebellion, thus succeeding in separating the city of Buenos Aires from the province. This event is considered the final phase in the consolidation of Argentina's federal state, initiated in 1862 by President Bartolomé Mitre.

After completing his presidency, Avellaneda was elected a national senator from his native province, and shortly thereafter was appointed rector of the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires. In 1885 he traveled to Europe with his wife, Cecilia Nóbrego, for medical treatment, but he died en route at the age of forty-eight. The works of Avellaneda, who also had literary inclinations, were published as Escritos literarios.

See alsoAlsina, Adolfo; Argentina, Political Parties: National Autonomist Party; Argentina: The Nineteenth Century; Conquest of the Desert; Mitre, Bartolomé; Roca, Julio Argentino; Rosas, Juan Manuel de; Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino; Tejedor, Carlos.


Avellaneda, Nicolás. Estudio sobre las leyes de tierras públicas. Buenos Aires: J. Roldán, 1915.

de Gandía, Enrique. Nicolás Avellaneda: sus ideas y su tiempo. Buenos Aires: Comisión Permanente de Homenaje al Dr. Nicolás Avellaneda, 1984.

Páez de la Torre, Carlos. Nicolás Avellaneda, una biografía. Buenos Aires: Planeta, 2001.

                                        ElÍas JosÉ Palti