José María Paz (1787-1857)
Argentina's 19th century Unitarian movement can point to no leader more faithful to the liberal cause than General José Maria Paz. Throughout the rule of strongman Juan Manuel Rosas, Paz steadfastly maintained his struggle against Rosas' federalist forces. Born in Córdoba, Paz joined the independence forces where he served under General Belgrano and lost an arm in combat.
While we view today's professional military as largely apolitical, this was not the case in Argentina. Paz, now a military officer of high standing, threw himself into politics in support of the Unitarian cause. By the late 1820s, Paz had established a beachhead for the beleaguered Unitarians in Córdoba where he led the Liga del Interior, a centralized association of nine provinces. This short lived alliance fell to the federalist forces led by Estanislao López. Paz escaped to fight Rosas from Corrientes and later become governor in neighboring Entre Rios. His political fortunes fell again as he was forced to flee to Montevideo, Uruguay. Through the 1840s he spent considerable time in exile before returning to Argentina in 1852 following Rosas' defeat at the hands of Jústo José de Urquiza. At 65 years of age, Paz dove back into national politics acting as Minister of War in Pastor Obligado's cabinet, serving as a legislator and participating in constitutional debates. Paz's career as soldier and politician exemplifies the willingness of the young republic's leaders to pursue their political ideals in peace and war time. Paz died in Buenos Aires in 1854.
The archive consists of a single letter to the governor of the province of San Juan and dated April 17, 1830.