General Jose Artigas Statue

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June 13th, 2009

Jose Artigas Statue Washington, DC


      This is a free attraction located in a park in front of the White House, at Constitution Avenue & 18th NW.  The original statue was sculpted by Juan M. Blanes (1830-1901) in 1948 and in 1950, a copy given to Washington DC.

     The statue of General Jose Artigas (1764-1850) is located in a park near the White House.  On the front of the base it reads: "Jose Artigas Father of  the Independence of Uruguay"  and he is named so because he raised many troops (volunteers) to fight for the freedom from Spanish domination.  The base reads: "Liberty of America is my dream and its attainment my only hope." He so admired the US and Democracy that he carried the American Constitution with him at all times. Another inscription reads: " From the people of Uruguay to the people of the United States of America"

     Born to wealthy parents, at age 33, he entered the Corps of Blandengues to protect the border with Brazil. In 1806-1807 he participated in the Spanish resistance to the British invasions of the Río de la Plata.  Following defeat at Montevideo, he was captured but was not shipped to Britain as a POW because he was wounded. In 1811 he left the Corps of Blandengues and went to Buenos Aires to offer his military services in the fight for independence in the Eastern Bank.

     Later that year, he returned to Uruguay with approximately 180 men; on April 11, he issued the Mercedes Proclamation, assumed control of the revolution and on May 18 defeated the Spanish in the Battle of Las Piedras. He set siege to Montevideo and was proclaimed First Chief of the "Orientals"

     In 1814, he organized the League of the Free Peoples, of which he was declared Protector. In 1815, he liberated Montevideo from the control of the "Unitarians", Buenos Aires.

     In 1815, he attended the Proto-congress of the Independence of Argentina. It was here the provinces of the Oriental Province (today Uruguay), Córdoba, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Misiones and Santa Fe declared themselves independent from Spain and formed the "Federal League". The league invited other provinces of the former Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata to join them under a federal system.

     Also at this congress, Artigas ratified the use of the flag created by Manuel Belgrano (which would later become the flag of the Argentine Republic), but added a diagonal festoon in red, the color of federalism in Argentina.

     The growth of influence and prestige of the Federal League frightened the governments in Buenos Aires and Portugal. In August 1816, Portugal invaded the Eastern Province, with the intention of destroying Artigas and his revolution.

      Portuguese forces, led by Carlos Frederico Lecor, conquered Artigas and his deputies and occupied Montevideo on 20 January 1817, but the struggle continued for three years in the country. Infuriated by Buenos Aires's passivity, Artigas declared war on Buenos Aires. His subordinates, members of the Federal League -- Francisco Ramírez, governor of Entre Ríos, and Estanislao López, governor of Santa Fe -- managed to defeat the centralism of Buenos Aires. But hope for a new nation was short-lived; both commanders entered agreements with Buenos Aires that went against the principles of Artigas. They rebelled against him and left him to be crushed by the Portuguese.

     Without resources and men, Artigas withdrew to Paraguay in September 1820. In Paraguay, Dr. Francia, the dictator, banished him to Candelaria. He then disappeared from the political life of the region.

    After a long exile, he died in Paraguay in 1850. It is said that Artigas, feeling near death, asked for a horse and died in the saddle, as a gaucho.

     An interesting fact about this statue was it was funded by school children of Uruguay.


Above: Statue of  General Jose Artigas


Juan M Blanes

Jose Artigas Wiki

Statuary in Washington DC

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