James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Cornelio de Saavedra and Others, 6 June 1811 (Abstract)

§ From Cornelio de Saavedra and Others1

6 June 1811, Buenos Aires. The signatories state that their government, desiring to secure the fullest safety from attacks from abroad by peoples who either are its enemies or assault its liberty, seeks arms from the U.S.—a generous nation which appreciates in the most noble manner the just liberty of men. This task is entrusted to Diego de Saavedra and Juan Pedro de Aguirre, for whom the assistance and protection of the U.S. government is requested. In order to ensure the success of their mission, which depends on the greatest and most solemn secrecy, they will travel with passports under the names of Pedro Lopez and Jose Cabrera, which will also avoid compromising the U.S. in any way in the eyes of England or any other nation that might needlessly take offense. This measure is undertaken to communicate with the U.S. government through the medium of JM and to recommend these commissioners to his protection.

RC (DNA: RG 59, NFL, Argentina). 2 pp. In Spanish. Signed by Saavedra and fifteen others. Translation printed in Manning, Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States concerning the Independence of the Latin-American Nations, 1:321.

1Cornelio de Saavedra (1760–1828) first rose to prominence in Buenos Aires during the resistance to the British assaults on the city in 1806–7. He was subsequently elected first president of the popular junta established in Buenos Aires on 25 May 1810 (see Junta of the Provinces of the Río de la Plata to JM, 11 Feb. 1811, and n. 1). Joel Roberts Poinsett did not rate Saavedra’s abilities very highly, describing him as “an intriguing ambitious Man, but without talents to conceive an extensive design or to see beyond the consequence that may immediately result from it.” Saavedra’s presidency did not survive the difficulties arising from the efforts of the Buenos Aires junta to extend its authority over the other provinces of the La Plata region, and he was ousted from power on 26 Aug. 1811 after forces loyal to the Supreme Central Government Junta in Spain defeated an army sent from Buenos Aires at Huaqui on 20 June 1811. Saavedra went into exile in Chile and did not return to Buenos Aires until 1818 (Poinsett to Robert Smith, 11 Apr. 1811 [PHi: Poinsett Papers]; Levene, A History of Argentina, pp. 191–202, 240–70).

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