United Provinces of the Río de la Plata

United Provinces of the Río de la Plata
United Provinces of the Río de la Plata
(United Provinces of South America)
Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata
(Provincias Unidas en Sud-América)



Flag of the United Provinces, 1812 Coat of arms
Patriotic March
United Provinces in 1816, during both the Independence War and the Civil War. In lighter blue, the territories not under Independentist control. In darker shades, the Supreme Directorship loyalist Provinces, and the Federal League Provinces.
Capital Buenos Aires
Language(s) Spanish
Religion Christianity
Government Republic
Historical era Napoleonic Wars
 - British invasions of the Río de la Plata 1806-1807
 - May Revolution 25 May, 1810
 - Declaration of
9 July 1816
 - Battle of Cepeda
End of centralized authority
1 February 1820
 - First Presidency 8 February 1826
 - Treaty of Montevideo
Independence of Uruguay
28 August 1828
 - Pacto Federal 4 January, 1831
Currency Real (since 1813)
Sol (since 1815)
Peso Fuerte (since 1826)

The United Provinces of South America (Spanish: Provincias Unidas en Sud-América) was the original name of the state that emerged from the May Revolution and the early developments of the Argentine War of Independence. It comprised most of the former Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata dependencies and had Buenos Aires as its capital.

It is best known, in Spanish literature, as Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata (English: United Provinces of the Río de la Plata), this being the most common (occasionally the official) name in use for the country, until the enactment of the 1826 Constitution. Moreover, this is currently one of the official designations for Argentina, as stated in the Argentine Constitution, Article 35.[1]



The United Provinces of South America was neighboured to the south by sparsely populated indigenous territories of Pampa and Patagonia which were the home of settled Amerindian nations such as the Mapuche, Ranquel and Puelche. To the north it was in contact with the indigenous territories of Gran Chaco populated by the Guaycuru nations. In the west was the Spanish controlled province of Chile and to the east was the Empire of Portugal.


The change from the Viceroyalty into the United Provinces was not merely a change of governors, but a revolutionary process that would replace the absolutist monarchy with a Republic. The main influences in this were the Enlightenment in Spain, promoting new ideas, and the Peninsular War that left Spain without a legitimate King after the Abdications of Bayonne. The concept of separation of powers gradually became a tool to prevent despotism.[2]

The new political situation generated great political conflict between the cities for two reasons. First, the Vacatio Regis removed the sovereignty from the King of Spain, but there was no clear view about who and how would be able to claim such sovereignty. Some people thought that it passed to other offices of the Spanish monarchy, while others held the notion of the retroversion of the sovereignty to the people: sovereignty returned to the people, who had now the right to self-governance. The vertical organization of the absolutist monarchy was compromised as well. Patriots thought that all cities, both in Spain and in the Americas, had the right to self-government, whereas Royalists recognized that power only to European Spain, holding that the Americas should stay subject to the new government that Spain would provide.[3]

The other source of conflict was the nature of the new governments, which declared themselves to be provisional during the King's absence but were making strong changes in the political organization. Unlike the First Republic of Venezuela, which declared independence early on, the United Provinces were faced with the inconsistency of acting like an independent state without actually having declared such independence.


The United Provinces of the Río de la Plata were formally established in 1810, after the May Revolution. Buenos Aires, capital of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, ousted the Spanish viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros, and attempted to reorganize the political structure of the viceroyalty. The change was motivated by the Peninsular War in Spain, and the capture of the Spanish king Ferdinand VII.

However, not all the provinces shared the idea and opposed Buenos Aires, starting the Argentine War of Independence.

Ever since the foundation of the United Provinces, porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) attempted to assert control over the Union, trying to establish a unitary, centralist state, something which was opposed by the Federales, who created their own state, the Liga Federal, governed by federalist laws.

Liga Federal

The Liga Federal (1815–1820) or Liga de los Pueblos Libres (League of the Free Peoples) was a small nation in what is now Argentina and Uruguay that was created after the breakup of the Spanish Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. The idea of a federalist country originated from its leader, José Gervasio Artigas, a former officer in the Spanish army.

The government of the United Provinces of South America felt threatened by the Liga Federal, so they did nothing to repel the incoming Portuguese invasion of Misiones Orientales and the Banda Oriental. Brazilian General Carlos Frederico Lecor, thanks to their numerical and material superiority, defeated Artigas and his army and occupied Montevideo on January 20, 1817, but the struggle continued for three long years in the countryside. Infuriated by the passivity of Buenos Aires, Artigas declared war on Buenos Aires while he was losing to the Portuguese. On February 1, 1820, other leaders of the Federal League (Governor of Entre Ríos Francisco Ramírez and Governor of Santa Fe Estanislao López), defeatead the Supreme Directorship and ended the centralized government of the United Provinces, as they established a federal agreement with Buenos Aires Province.

As the United Provinces turned to a federal organization, the Federal League Provinces rejoined them and abandoned Artigas, who was expelled from the Banda Oriental by the Portuguese, and then exiled from Entre Ríos to Paraguay by his former ally Ramírez. The Eastern Province was annexed by Portugal to its Brazilian dependences in 1821.

Break up of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata

United Provinces represented at the 1813 Congress.

The result of the wars was the independence of the provinces:


Five provinces would go on to become Bolivia


The independence of the Eastern Province (Provincia Oriental) became Uruguay


Misiones Orientales was awarded to Brazil, following the outcome of the Argentina-Brazil War.


Following a long civil war, the following Provinces joined to become the Argentine Republic:

Falkland Islands

The United Provinces had intermittent control over the Falkland Islands, establishing a colony under Luis Vernet in 1829 despite British claims to the islands. The British regained control of the islands in 1833.

See also


  1. ^ "Art. 35.- Las denominaciones adoptadas sucesivamente desde 1810 hasta el presente, a saber: Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata; República Argentina, Confederación Argentina, serán en adelante nombres oficiales indistintamente para la designación del Gobierno y territorio de las provincias, empleándose las palabras "Nación Argentina" en la formación y sanción de las leyes."
    "Article 35 .- The denominations successively adopted from 1810 to the present, namely: United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, Argentine Republic, Argentine Confederation, shall henceforth be interchangeably official names to describe the Government and territory of the provinces, using the words "Argentine Nation" for the making and the enactment of laws."
  2. ^ Ternavasio, p. 12
  3. ^ Ternavasio, p. 14


  • Ternavasio, Marcela; Luis Alberto Romero (2007). Gobernar la Revolución. Buenos Aires: Siglo veintiuno editores. ISBN 978-987-1220-96-0. 
  • "Símbolos Nacionales de la República Argentina" ISBN 950-691-036-7

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata — The Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata (in Spanish, Director Supremo de las Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata ), was a title given to the executive officers of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata,… …   Wikipedia

  • Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata — The Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was the last and most shortlived viceroyalty created by Spain in 1776. (The Spanish name, Virreinato del Río de la Plata , translates literally to Viceroyalty of the River of Silver, although some sources… …   Wikipedia

  • United Provinces of South America — Infobox Former Country conventional long name = United Provinces of South America native name = Provincias Unidas de Sud América common name = United Provinces of South America continent = South America country = Argentina era = status =… …   Wikipedia

  • Director Supremo de las Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda El Directorio fue la forma de gobierno establecida en 1814 por la Asamblea del Año XIII para las Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata, de acuerdo al cual un Director Supremo se hacía cargo del poder ejecutivo con un …   Wikipedia Español

  • Sovereignty of the Falkland Islands — The sovereignty of the Falkland Islands ( Islas Malvinas in Spanish) [http://www.wordreference.com/es/translation.asp?tranword=Falklands B10=Buscar dict=enes] WordReference, English Spanish Dictionary. Falklands: the Falklands, las (islas)… …   Wikipedia

  • Army of the North — The Army of the North (Spanish: Ejército del Norte ), called Army of Peru in the documents of the time, was one of the armies deployed by the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata in the Hispanic American wars of independence. This army was in… …   Wikipedia

  • Timeline of the history of the Falkland Islands — The Falkland Islands have a complex history stretching over five hundred years. Active exploration and colonisation began in the 18th century but a self supporting colony was not established till the latter part of the 19th century. Nonetheless,… …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Falkland Islands — The history of the Falkland Islands goes back at least five hundred years, with active exploration and colonisation only taking place in the 18th century. Nonetheless, the islands have been a matter of controversy, as they have been claimed by… …   Wikipedia

  • Historiography of the May Revolution — Bartolomé Mitre wrote one of the first historical interpretations of the May Revolution. Historiographical studies of the May Revolution started in the second half of the 19th century in Argentina and have extended to modern day. All… …   Wikipedia

  • Armed Forces of the Empire of Brazil — Brazilian Armed Forces Emperor Dom Pedro II, Commander in Chief of the Brazilian Armed Forces (1831–89) dressed as an Admiral. Service branc …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.