Savages into citizens: Families, political purge, and reconciliation in Córdoba, Argentina, 1820–1862

Jesse Hingson, Florida International University


This dissertation explores the political exclusion and reintegration of families and individuals in Córdoba, Argentina during the early nineteenth-century. Part one is an examination of how Federals in Córdoba managed the process of political identification and purge. Federals set up ad hoc institutions that were responsible for targeting political subversives within provincial communities. From 1831 to 1852, Federals managed to target, or “classify,” over 400 individuals and families in various towns and villages as “savage Unitarians,” a political label that meant the certain loss of rights, property, exile, and worse. Federals also sought active participation among “citizens” from all levels of society. Thus, I argue that the process of correctly identifying a “savage Unitarian” in Córdoba was constantly subject to modification at the local level. I also reconstruct the stories of accused families as they struggled to survive the political purges. Many of the families were large landowners and wealthy merchants, confirming that early republican Argentine political struggles were often intra-elite affairs. However, the “classified” individuals and families also represented a variety of socio-economic, ethnic, and racial groups. The second part of this study focuses on families who petitioned Federal authorities for the restitution of rights and property. They proclaimed their loyalty to the “Federal cause,” and often, they had friends and family who could vouch for their claims. These petitions forced Federal authorities to doubt the precision of political identification and re-think how the ideology of Federalism was defined. Authorities granted most requests for repatriation, thereby creating a process of reintegration that included amnesty and restitution. Yet, this system failed to repair the psychological, emotional, materials, and political effects of political purge. Conflicts between society and state led to numerous misunderstandings about what restitution, justice, and reconciliation meant. The new regime's leaders more often denied restitution claims to formerly accused families and individuals, demonstrating that the journey from “savage” to citizen left an indelible imprint on family life in mid-nineteenth century Argentina.

Subject Area

Latin American history

Recommended Citation

Hingson, Jesse, "Savages into citizens: Families, political purge, and reconciliation in Córdoba, Argentina, 1820–1862" (2003). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3110365.