Teaching Module

Love & Authority in Argentina (19th c)

Ignacia Funes and Teresa Bulnes to Manuel López [Letter]

Annotation

In Córdoba, Argentina's second largest province, two women, Ignacia Funes and Teresa Bulnes, found themselves defending the conduct of two children, who were accused by their stepfather, known only as "Roca," of composing pro-Unitarian songs. This was a grave offense, and the children were immediately jailed for their crime. This demonstrates that local authorities were willing to arrest those accused of politically suspicious behavior no matter the age of the offender.

In 1841, Funes and Bulnes wrote this letter as a direct appeal to Manuel López, a strong Rosas ally and Córdoba's provincial governor between 1835 and 1852. They pleaded with López not to consider the stepfather's denunciation and to release the children into community custody. Although the ages of the children were not noted in this appeal, these women argued that the children were too young to understand what they were doing, and if the children had done something wrong, it was actually a reflection on their stepfather. This document shows the ways in which political divisions divided families and the ease with which children could be swept into the partisan political arguments of the era.

Source

Archivo Histórico de la Provincia de Córdoba, Gobierno, tomo 176, folios 124-25. Translated and annotated by Jesse Hingson.

Primary Source Text

LONG LIVE THE FEDERATION!

Córdoba, April 16th, 1841

Most Excellent Señor Governor Don Manuel López,

I just found out at this moment that Roca addressed a little letter to Your Excellency, and I have anticipated that it will be his business to communicate to Your Excellency a disagreement that he has had with his stepchildren: Your Excellency cannot imagine the grief that it has caused me to have to tell you [about] the annoyance of a man that should close his mouth in a matter in which he is precisely at fault. . . only a man like him can have the audacity to address Your Excellency. But I hope that Your Excellency will not take one step without being well informed; I hope that you will acquaint the authorities with "my sons" because that is also what I call them. . . and all of [the local authorities] have known that…[Roca] does not have the authority because only he has wanted to commit the most atrocious slander, and hoping to find protection in Your Excellency that everyone here denies. . . But as Providence does not forsake justice, I have been able to be afforded counsel, and as such, I feel obligated to say in favor of justice that whatever Roca says against them is a grave lie; because I know the irreprehensible behavior of the children, their honor, and all the qualities that can rest in a man that has the title of honest and honorable man.

Not having time to make a report of what has happened, I will be content with saying to Your Excellency that Roca has wanted to accuse the children of being Unitarians because he had no other more noble weapons to attack them; but he has deceived himself into believing that he could prove anything because he cannot provide more proof than hearsay that one of them composed a song against the Federalists. . . and above all, they are children who still do not have the ability to think things over, and [even if the accusations were true] it is not so strange that they were blinded, and [even] cautious men have been surprised by the craftiness of the Savages [Unitarians].

I hope that Your Excellency will not make the case [only] from all that Roca says, and that you will not take action against them until you are well informed, and in order not to have the slightest misgivings, Teresita and I will guarantee their conduct. . .

Ignacia Funes
Teresa Bulnes de Aldao

How to Cite This Source

"Love & Authority in Argentina (19th c)," in Children and Youth in History, Item #60, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/teaching-modules/60 (accessed August 28, 2014).