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Fri, 08.14.1818

José María Morales, Legislator, and Soldier born

José María Morales Funeral

*José María Morales was born on this date in 1818. He was an Afro Argentine tinsmith legislator and soldier.

From Buenos Aires, Argentina, he was the son of a military patriot who fought in the British invasions. He also followed a military career and was part of the troops of Manuel Oribe until aged 20; he emigrated to Montevideo. On July 2, 1839, he joined the Freedom Legion that, under the orders of Juan Lavalle, went to the island of Martín García. In the following campaign, Morales fought in the battles of Yeruá, Don Cristobal, and Sauce Grande. He took part in the further advancement of Buenos Aires and the retreat north. He fought in the Battle of Quebracho Herrado, in San Cala, and Familial.

In 1843, he joined the Argentina Legion in the defense of Montevideo. He fought in the general breakout to Las Tres Cruces, El Buceo, El Cerro, and other actions. Upon dissolution of the Legion, he left for the province of Corrientes. He remained there until 1850. He stuck to the 'Pronouncement of Urquiza' and fought in the battle of Caseros. Back in his home city, he participated in the revolution of September 11, 1852, fighting against the national authorities in the battalion commanded by Colonel Domingo Sosa.

During the siege of Buenos Aires by Hilario Lagos, he was seriously wounded and transferred to the Invalid Corps with the rank of sergeant major. Upon resumption of the war between the Confederation and the State of Argentina, Buenos Aires, he fought in the Battle of Cepeda (1859), leading a bayonet charge. Upon returning to Buenos Aires, he was at the naval action of San Nicolas de los Arroyos (1859). He fought in the Battle of Pavón (1861) which eventually ended the conflict. Between campaigns, he worked as a tinsmith to support his family. When the war with Paraguay started in 1865 under the command of the 2nd Battalion of Regiment No. 3, Morales fought in the battles of Yatay, Uruguayan, Paso de la Patria, Itapiru, and Bellaco Estero.

He also fought in Tuyuti, Boqueron, Curupaytí, Humaita, Lomas Valentinas and Angostura. In November 1868, he was promoted to colonel. After the war, in 1870, he was appointed Assistant Chief of the Militia of the Southern Border of the Province of Buenos Aires. As such, he helped to quell the Indigenous uprising in Sierra Chica and Tapalqué. He then served as an auditor in Las Flores and Azul (Buenos Aires). In 1871 he was elected deputy to the provincial legislature and formed part of the commission reforming the constitution of Buenos Aires. During the revolution of 1874, he served as chief of staff of the "Constitutional Army" of General Ignacio Rivas.

He attended the Battle of La Verde and was among those who surrendered in Junín (Buenos Aires). He was invalided out of the army. In the uprising of 1880, he again joined the revolutionary ranks before the battalions of volunteers Mitre Sosa. He acted as commander of the South District in defense of the city. He participated in the Battle of Puente Alsina and the Corrales Viejos. He returned to arms in the revolution of 1890 and was chief of the forces that defended the Parque Artillería until its surrender. On three occasions, he occupied a seat in the provincial legislature. During one of them, as a senator, he fought the project intended to promote him to General for his performance in the revolution of 1880.

Contrary to the opinion of Dr. Lastra, Morales said the Senate could not make the promotion and that the sacrifices made did not deserve the reward. Between January 1891 and August 1893, he administered the national penitentiary. He died in Buenos Aires on October 23, 1894, in the last months of the presidency of Luis Sáenz Peña. His remains were buried in La Recoleta Cemetery in an impressive ceremony escorted in formation by Battalion No.10 in line under Lieutenant Colonel Toscano. Among others present were the ministers Manuel Quintana, Eduardo Costa, José A. Terry, General Luis Maria Campos, Lieutenant General Bartolomé Mitre, Nicholas Levalle, generals José Miguel Arredondo, Viedma, José Inocencio Arias, Antonio Donovan, colonels José María Fernández, Pérez, Francisco Ribeiro, Rodriguez, Martin Guerrico and many commanders.

Eduardo Gutierrez, a chronicler of the movement of Buenos Aires in 1880, said that "few men are as patriotic and dignified as Colonel Morales. He loved his country above all else, and where he fought for freedom and principles, he would always offer a generous quota of blood to uphold the rule of law (...) If governments have forgotten his services, they are engraved in the hearts of the people, who love and respect him."   Lieutenant General Bartolomé Mitre called him "one of the worthiest leaders who have served the nation."  

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