On March 24, 1816 the sessions of the Congress of Tucumán began. The Buenos Aires deputy Pedro Medrano was elected president. It was resolved that this position would be rotating and monthly and two secretaries were appointed, Juan José Paso and José Mariano Serrano, a deputy from Alto Peru.
The first issue that Congress had to deal with was the replacement of the resigning Supreme Director, Ignacio Álvarez Thomas. A deputy for San Luis, Colonel Major Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, was elected to the position.
The new director had to travel immediately to Salta to confirm Martín Miguel de Güemes as commander of the northern border after Rondeau’s defeat at Sipe Sipe.
The next topic was the debate on the form of government. Most of the congressmen agreed to establish a constitutional monarchy, which was the most accepted form in Europe of the restoration that ensued after Napoleon’s final defeat.
Scenes from the Congress of Tucumán. / File
One of the few remaining republics in the world was the United States of America.
In the secret session of July 6, 1816, Manuel Belgrano proposed before the congressmen of Tucumán that instead of seeking a European prince or returning to being under Spanish authority, a moderate monarchy headed by an Inca prince be established, as a way to repair the injustices committed by the Spanish conquerors against American cultures.
Belgrano received the warm support of José de San Martín y Güemes. The idea also excited the High Peruvian deputies, who proposed a kingdom with capital in Cuzco and it was taken for granted that this would allow the adherence of the natives to the revolutionary cause.
Faced with the fierce opposition of some Buenos Aires deputies such as Anchorena, Fray Justo Santa María de Oro showed off his political doll and he proposed that before taking any resolution on the form of government, the peoples of the entire territory should be consulted and he threatened to withdraw from the congress if that resolution was not taken.
Interior of the Historic House of Tucumán. / File
The discussions between monarchists and republicans continued increasingly heated without reaching any agreement.
Pueyrredón returned to Tucumán and hurried the deputies so that they declared independence once and for all and then he traveled to Buenos Aires.
A commission made up of deputies Gascón, Sánchez de Bustamante and Serrano drew up a kind of work plan for Congress that included the long-awaited and long-delayed issue of independence, which made the governor mayor of Cuyo, José de San Martin, what he needed that declaration to cross into Chile as the head of an army from an independent state.
On Tuesday, July 9, 1816, it was not raining as it had on May 25, six years ago. The day was very sunny and around two in the afternoon the Congress began with sessions.
In front of the Historic House of Tucumán. / File
At the request of the deputy for Jujuy, Sánchez de Busdamente, the “deliberation project on the freedom and independence of the country” was discussed.
Under the presidency of San Juan Narciso Laprida, the secretary Juan José Paso asked the congressmen “if they wanted the Provinces of the Union to be a free nation of the kings of Spain and their metropolis ”.
All the deputies approved the Paso proposal by acclamation first.
In the midst of the shouts of the people who looked from the outside through the windows and some casts that had managed to enter the room, they were signing the Act of Independence that declared “solemnly to the face of the earth, that it is the unanimous and indubitable will of these provinces to break the ties that bound them to the Kings of Spain, to recover the rights that they were stripped and to invest in the high character of an independent nation of King Fernando VII, his successors and metropolis ”.
In the session of July 19, one of the deputies for Buenos Aires, Pedro Medrano, preventing the furious reaction of San Martín, who was aware of the secret efforts in which some congressmen and the Supreme Director himself were involved, aimed at delivering these provinces, independent of Spain, under the dominion of Portugal or England,
Medrano pointed out that “before passing the act of independence and the formula of the oath to the Army, be added, after ‘his successors and metropolis’; this plus: ‘of all foreign domination’, to quell the rumor that there was the idea of handing over the country to the Portuguese ”.