Domingo Faustino Sarmiento was, among many things, an Argentine politician, writer, teacher, journalist, military man and statesman. It was President of the Nation between 1868 and 1874, governor of the province of San Juan between 1862 and 1864, national senator for his province between 1874 and 1879 and interior minister in 1879.

Born on February 14, 1811, Sarmiento was loved by many and hated by many others. His life, his euphoria, his ideology and his actions never went unnoticed and his strong influence and investment in education made him one of the most outstanding personalities in the history of Argentina, to the point of carrying with honor the nickname of “Classroom parent.”

His life was as well known as his works – for example, “Civilization and Barbarism” It is one of the books that today generates controversy-, but there are some aspects that are not so well known to those who were considered “The great Teacher of America.”

Passed away on September 11, 1888 on Assumption from Paraguay, The former Argentine president has a series of quite curious data that not many people know. We review the ten curiosities of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento

1. His name was not Domingo

Although he was publicly known as Domingo Faustino, the hero had another name: Faustino Valentine. Born on February 14, Valentine’s Day, was baptized according to the liturgical calendar and that is why it had his name. However, her mother decided that they should call it something else.

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento had many women throughout his life.

Being a devotee of Santo Domingo, Sarmiento’s family started calling him Domingo instead of Valentine. Years later, Sarmiento himself accepted and adopted the name with which he is recognized throughout the world.

2. He had 14 siblings

Marriage between Clemente Sarmiento and Paula Albarracin had the modest sum of 15 children during all his life. Unfortunately, as a result of the times, diseases and the few tools, only five were able to reach adults: Paula, Bienvenida, Rosario, Procesa and Domingo Faustino himself.

Little is known about the rest, but there are death records that were compiled by one of his sisters, in which it appears that among the deceased, Sarmiento had 5 brothers, of which no historical note has been taken: Honorio, Manuel, Juan Crisóstomo, Jesús and Antonino.

3. Self-taught: learned to read at age four

For the town where he was born and raised, Sarmiento could not go to any school and his first teachers were his father, Jose Clemente and his uncle José Eufrasio Quiroga Sarmiento. In this way, whoever later became a teacher learned to read on his own at a young age.

In 1816 he entered one of the so-called “Schools of the Homeland “ and when he finished he processed a scholarship for him College of Moral Sciences that was not granted. From then on, he was self-taught. An engineer friend helped him with mathematics, his uncle with Latin and Theology, and he learned French on his own.

4. Organized the first national census

In 1869, the first year of his administration, he decided to thoroughly investigate the country’s population. The first national census in the history of Argentina threw like result that in the country there was 1,836,490 inhabitants, Being the 8% of all European immigrants, 70% rural population and 71% of Argentines, illiterate.

Archive of the first census in the history of the Argentine Republic.

These data served to drive a large part of the measures he took during his six years in office, especially the investment he sustained in education.

5. He wrote down every expense he made

The rigor with which he handled himself throughout his life was known to all, but another characteristic of Sarmiento was the thoroughness to record all expenses that he performed as a government official.

For example, Sarmiento traveled to Europe commissioned by the government of Chile to survey the new educational methods and noted: “A cake to eat”, “a pair of shoes”, “Gloves, stockings and ties” and “a piece to dry the pen” as part of your purchases during the trip.

6. Meteorology and astronomy began in Argentina

During his tenure as Argentine representative in USA, Sarmiento met the astronomer Benjamin Apthorp Gould, and managed to convince him to travel to Argentina to create an astronomical observatory. Years later, in 1871, was born Astronomical Observatory of Córdoba that managed to have relevance worldwide.

A year after the founding of the Cordoba observatory, both began Argentine studies of meteorology by creating, in 1872, the National Meteorological Office.

7. Imported female teachers from the United States

As is known to all, the journey of Sarmiento a USA It fascinated him with the educational aspect of the North American country. Thus, when he became president in 1968, he invested heavily in education throughout his term. In the six years of management and the Grants Act of 1871 founded about 800 schools.

Sarmiento, in one of his most popular images with a military uniform.

This is how he came to have a total of 1816 schools, of which the 27% were private. The school population almost quadrupled: it went from 30,000 to 110,000 students. Several of the new schools had the inclusion of United States teachers that Sarmiento met on one of his trips.

8. His sister, one of the first female painters in the country

Process of Carmen, one of the 14 siblings that Sarmiento had carried out paintings and collages with elements of nature. Her significance was such that she is considered one of the first female painters in the country.

9. A fan of the typical fruits and preserves of San Juan

In one of the letters that Sarmiento sent to his sister, Bienvenida, he revealed his taste for sweets, the preserves and San Juan fruits like figs and quinces. There he also recounted his predilection for soaked olives, peaches in brandy and fig raisins.

Sarmiento also liked the cucumber salad and I used to eat it often. A family anecdote tells that once cucumbers were missing to make the famous salad and, then, as usual, he took out two that he carried in his pockets and gave them to the cook to make her favorite salad.

10. Planted the first wicker stick in the country.

Another of the fanaticisms that he acquired over the years Sarmiento was that of plant trees. This is how he became the first person to plant the first wicker stick in the country, precisely in the Paraná Delta. According to his grandson, during the last year of life, the hero sent wicker rods by mail to promote their production.


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