Urquiza, Justo José de (1801–1870)

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Urquiza, Justo José de (1801–1870)

Justo José de Urquiza (b. 18 October 1801; d. 11 April 1870), Argentine soldier and statesman. Urquiza was born in Talar de Arroyo Largo, Entre Ríos, the son of a merchant and landowner. He studied at the Colegio de San Carlos in Buenos Aires and in 1821 became a lieutenant in the militia. In 1826–1827 he served in the Entre Ríos congress, where he argued for democracy, federalism, and educational improvements; he also persuaded the congress to reject the 1826 Constitution. Urquiza expanded his business activities and became a follower of Ricardo López Jordán, who was defeated by a revolution supported by Santa Fe Governor Estanislao López. Urquiza fled to Uruguay, and in 1831 he returned to Entre Ríos to take command of the Army of Observation. In 1837 he was again elected to serve in the provincial congress. In 1838 he was with the Entre Ríos army massed to oppose an attack by Fructuoso Rivera of Uruguay and Berón de Astrada of Corrientes. The attack was repulsed, thanks largely to Urquiza's cavalry. Urquiza continued fighting interprovincial battles. In 1845 he was named governor of Entre Ríos, a province where the dictator and governor of Buenos Aires, Juan Manuel de Rosas, had little influence.

Urquiza established a well-equipped militia composed primarily of landowners, and he financed progressive programs in public education. In 1848 he began building the Palacio San José, his residence, and founded the Colegio del Uruguay. Urquiza was reelected governor in 1849, and in 1851 he announced to the provincial governments and the exiles in Montevideo that he would undertake a campaign against Rosas. To further that goal, he negotiated an alliance with Brazil and Uruguay.

Urquiza opened his campaign by raising the siege of Montevideo by Manuel Oribe. When his forces crossed into Uruguay, many of Oribe's troops and some from Buenos Aires joined them. Meanwhile, Rosas had declared war on Brazil. Urquiza was to command a combined force of Argentine, Brazilian, and Uruguayan troops. Rosas took no defensive measures to stop Urquiza's advance but assembled his army at Santos Lugares. Rosas was defeated at nearby Caseros on 3 February 1852 by a superior cavalry. He fled to Buenos Aires, where he and his daughter sought refuge in the home of the British minister and a few days later sailed for England.

Urquiza appointed Vicente López y Planes as interim governor. In May 1852, at a meeting of provincial governors, at San Nicolás de los Arroyos, Urquiza was named temporary director of the Argentine Confederation. Buenos Aires disapproved, however, and in September it seceded from the confederation. All the provinces except Buenos Aires approved the constitution in 1853, Paraná became the capital of the confederation, and Urquiza was elected president (1854–1860). The new government lacked adequate resources to create the institutions that would further national integration and economic development. Several military invasions were launched to bring Buenos Aires into the union, and in 1859 Congress authorized Urquiza, governor of Entre Ríos since 1 May 1860, to use military force to subdue the rebellious province. The armies of the confederation under Urquiza clashed with the Buenos Aires army, led by Bartolomé Mitre, at Pavón on 17 September 1861. Urquiza's cavalry won, but the infantry was defeated. Urquiza left the battlefield. Some maintain that he was ill, others that he realized that Buenos Aires could not be defeated, and still others that he was disgusted with the disputes among military and civilian leaders. Urquiza, constitutionally prohibited from succeeding himself, secured the election of José María Dominguez as governor in 1864, and in 1865 he sought—unsuccessfully—to prevent war with Paraguay. Francisco Solano López attacked Corrientes, thus compelling Urquiza to support the unified Argentine government of Mitre.

On 11 April 1870, a group of conspirators assassinated Urquiza at his home. Two of his sons were killed in Concordia, Entre Ríos. Urquiza had amassed a considerable fortune in land, cattle, and meat-salting plants. He and his wife had eleven children, and he legitimized twelve of his natural children.

See alsoArgentina: The Nineteenth Century; Rosas, Juan Manuel de.


Leslie Bethell, ed., Argentina Since Independence (1993), and Spanish America After Independence, c. 1820–c. 1870 (1987).

Beatriz Bosch, Urquiza y su tiempo, 2d ed. (1980).

David Bushnell and Neill Macaulay, The Emergence of Latin America in the Nineteenth Century, 2d ed., (1994).

Joseph T. Criscenti, ed., Sarmiento and His Argentina (1993).

Vicente Cutolo, "Urquiza, J. J. de," in Nuevo diccionario biográfico argentino, vol. 7 (1985), pp. 444-451.

Susana T. P. De Domínguez Soler, Urquiza: Ascendencia vasca y descendencia en el Río de la Plata (1992). In English see José Luis Romero, A History of Argentine Political Thought, translated by Thomas F. McGann (1963).

John Lynch, Argentine Dictator: Juan Manuel de Rosas, 1829–1852 (1981).

Alberto J. Masramón, Urquiza, libertador y fundador (1982).

Jacinto R. Yaben, "Urquiza, J. J. de," in Biografías argentinas y sudamericanas, vol. 5 (1940), pp. 964-975.

Additional Bibliography

Gliemmo, Graciela. Dolores Costa y Justo José de Urquiza: Alianzas amorosas y políticas entre Buenos Aires y el interior. Buenos Aires: Planeta, 1999.

Martínez, Carlos María. Urquiza en el Uruguay, los orientales en Caseros. Buenos Aires: Instituto Urquiza de Estudios Históricos, 2001.

Pasquali, Patricia. La instauración liberal: Urquiza, Mitre y un estadista olvidado, Nicasio Oroño. Buenos Aires: Planeta, 2003.

                                        Joseph T. Criscenti