Saavedra, Cornelio de (1759–1829)

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Saavedra, Cornelio de (1759–1829)

Cornelio de Saavedra (b. 15 September 1759; d. 29 March 1829), landowner and merchant who played a leading role in the first phase of Argentine independence. Born in Potosí of creole parents, Saavedra moved with his family to Buenos Aires, where he was educated at the Real Colegio de San Carlos. Alongside his merchant career he gained experience in public office, serving on the cabildo and as grain administrator during the last decade of Spanish rule. He also demonstrated military leadership when he organized a creole militia unit, the Patricios, and commanded them in action against the British invaders in 1807. From his military power base Saavedra intervened decisively in the events of May 1810, voted for a change of government, and became president of the patriotic junta which prepared the way for full independence. Saavedra led the conservative wing of the movement, favoring gradual change and representation of the provinces, against Mariano Moreno and the radical reformists who wanted to impose instant revolution and sought a unified as well as an independent Argentina.

The conservatives ousted the radicals in April 1811 but were themselves weakened by internal opposition and military defeat in Upper Peru. Saavedra went personally to reorganize the Army of the North, but while absent from Buenos Aires (September 1811) he was ousted from government and deprived of his army command. He then suffered political persecution and periods of exile, until in 1818 the national Congress cleared his name and the Supreme Director, Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, restored his military rank and appointed him chief of staff. He spent the year of anarchy (1820) in Montevideo but returned to Buenos Aires during the government of Martín Rodríguez. He retired to private life and died in Buenos Aires.


Enrique Ruíz Guiñazú, El Presidente Saavedra y el pueblo soberano de 1810 (1960).

John Lynch, The Spanish American Revolutions 1808–1826, 2d ed. (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Muñoz Moraleda, Ernesto. Los grupos políticos españoles y su influencia en los sucesos rioplatenses (1809–1820). Argentina: s.n., 1993.

                                            John Lynch