Evolving Financial Markets and International Capital Flows: Britain, the Americas, and Australia, 1865-1914

By Lance E. Davis; Robert E. Gallman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Argentine savings, investment, and economic
growth before World War I

6–1. Introduction

As a result of the revolutionary movement in Spain's American empire, Argentina achieved independence early in the nineteenth century.1205 By 1810 Buenos Aires was free, de facto, and by 1816, de jure; but the wars continued (with Argentine participation) until 1824, when the Spanish empire in America was largely liquidated. Conditions in Argentina continued unsettled until 1829, when the dictator Juan Manuel Rosas came to power.1206 Traditional historiography treats the period of the Rosas regime as a time of political and social retrogression and economic stagnation:

The History of Argentina to 1860 is still commonly framed in the mythic terms imposed by Domingo Sarmiento in his novel Facundo. According to Sarmiento's enduring trope, the failure by 1820 of the first Republican experiments led inexorably to a bloody conflict between “civilization and barbarism.” Central to this dramatic representation of the region's history is the assertion of a fundamental rivalry between rural and urban cultures. Federalism and Unitarism were, therefore, ideological expressions of antithetical cultural traditions. The brutality, cruelty, and personalism of Juan Manuel de Rosas were natural and predictable given the brutishness, isolation, and pure physicality of life on the livestock frontier that spawned him.1207

____________________
1205
Ricardo Levene, A History of Argentina, translated and edited by William Spence Robertson (New York: Russell and Russell, 1963), pp. 232–34. [Hereafter cited as Levene, History of Argentina.]
1206
Rosas was made Governor and Captain General of Buenos Aires Province on December 8, 1829. He stepped down after one term, but was returned on March 7, 1835. His dictatorship is usually dated from 1835. Levene, History of Argentina, pp. 403, 410.
1207
Lyman Johnson, “Measuring Economic Performance During the Rosa Regime, ” paper delivered at the January 1996 meeting of the American Historical Association in Atlanta. [Hereafter cited as Johnson, “Measuring Economic Performance.”] See also Domingo Sarmiento, Life in the Argentine Republic in the Days of the Tyrants: or, Civilization and Barbarism (New York: Hafner Press, 1868). The opposing cultural attractions of rural (domestic) and urban (internationalist) ideals — ideals that persisted — are treated in J.C.M. Ogelsby, “Who Are We? The Search for a National Identity in Argentina, Australia and Canada, ” in D.C.M. Platt (eds.), Argentina, Australia and Canada: Studies in Comparative Development, 1870–1965 (Oxford: Macmillan, in Association with St. Anthony's College, 1985). A similar, but muted, theme runs through the U.S. history occasionally, as in the conflict between Andrew Jackson and the Second Bank of the United States becoming dominant.

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