Juan Manuel Rosas - Encyclopedia

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JUAN MANUEL ROSAS (1793-1877), tyrant of Buenos Aires, was born on the 30th of March 1793, in the city of that name. His father, Leon Ortiz de Rosas, was an owner of cattle runs (estancias) and a trader in hides, who took an active part in defeating the English attack on the city in 1807. Juan Rosas received so little education that he had to learn to read and write when he was already a married man and a successful cattle breeder. From a very early age he was left in charge of one of his father's establishments. When he was eighteen he married Maria de la Encarnacion Escurra. His mother having suspected him of appropriating money, he left his parents, and for some time subsisted by working as a vaquero or cowboy, and then as overseer on the estates of other owners; but he accumulated money, and by the help of a loan from a friend he became possessed of a cattle run of his own, Los Cerrillos. The anarchical state of the country since its independence of Spain had favoured the Indians, who had taken the offensive and raided up to within forty miles of Buenos Aires. Rosas obtained leave to arm his cowboys. Under his management Los Cerrillos became a refuge for adventurers, whom he paid and fed well, but from whom he exacted implicit obedience. His followers became a fighting force of acknowledged efficiency, and Rosas took practically the position of an independent ruler whose help was sought by contending political parties. By attending to his own interest only, and by astute intrigue, or savage fighting when necessary, he grew in power from 1820 onwards, and from 1835 to 1852 ruled as dictator (see Argentina). is probable that he would have continued to govern in Buenos Aires till his death if his ambition had not led him into wars with all his neighbours. He wished to extend the authority of the Republic over all the territory which had belonged to the Spanish viceroyalty of Buenos. This led him directly into wars with Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile, and into "warlike operations" with England and France, with whom he had other causes of quarrel arising out of the complaints of traders and bondholders. His government was overthrown in 1852 by a coalition of his neighbours and the defection of several of his generals, and even members of his own family who lived in fear of his suspicions and violence. He took refuge in England, and lived at Swaythling, near Southampton, till his death on the 14th of March 1877. A portrait taken in 1834 and reproduced by Sir Woodbine Parish in his Buenos Ayres and Provinces of the Rio de la Plata (London, 1852) represents Rosas as a fine-looking man of the handsome Spanish type.

See O. Martens, Ein Caligula unseres Jahrhunderts (Berlin, 1896), which contains a full bibliography.

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