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Esteban Pichardo: his passion hidden in La Aurora

Gloria Machado León 29 noviembre, 2017

The newspaper La Aurora de Matanzas was a newspaper that published economic, mercantile, political, social and literary information. Given its relevance, it is considered one of the most important newspapers of the 19th century in Cuba. It was first published in 1828. His writings were general and interesting and he played a significant role in Matanzas, since he showed part of the national culture. In its pages the most prestigious writers of the time collaborated, among which we can mention Cirilo Villaverde, Domingo del Monte, Miguel Teurbe Tolón, Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda and the geographer Esteban Pichardo. In relation to the latter, his collaboration with articles for La Aurora is curious.

Don Esteban Pichardo was born in Santo Domingo on December 26, 1799, but his family moved to our Island when he was only two years old. They settled in the town of Port-au-Prince (now Camagüey), where he began his studies. Later he went to Havana and graduated as a bachelor in the Seminary of San Carlos and San Ambrosio. In 1822 finished the studies of Right in the University of Havana and begins to exert in Guanajay, Havana and Matanzas, until its return to Port Prince. Already as early as 1829 he had delivered the Compendium of Geography of the Island of Cuba, for use in schools and secondary schools.

Cartography was a key element in his life. The illustrious intellectual compiled the results of his investigations in the topographic chart of Matanzas and his Ordinary Royal Jurisdiction with the Neighborhood of its Circumference. In 1840 he undertook the realization of a Map of Matanzas and another Map of the Western Region in four sheets, which was published in 1853. [1]

Pichardo begins to write his geographical studies about the Matanzas city in La Aurora, mainly in the decade of 1840. Without being Matanzas he keeps doing research and contributions for the city. His passion for Geography is hidden, well sheltered in La Aurora. Only those who have the good fortune to read the pages of the publication discover those articles.

On November 22, 1845 Esteban Pichardo publishes the detailed description of a map of Matanzas. The scientist explains “I have started by plotting on a larger scale the most populated, rich and interesting piece of the comprehensive island of the jurisdictions of Havana, Matanzas and Cárdenas” [2]. It is striking that the works of this scholar were very detailed descriptions and sometimes included up to three columns.

Later, on August 15th, 1846, Pichardo returns to publish another work called Plano de Matanzas, but this time under the auspices of the Governor Don José Falgueras. All these articles are the result of the work of this intellectual who used La Aurora as a vehicle to publicize his research; He also took advantage of the occasion to announce the sale of his plans. At the end of the article as a note and before its signature it reads, “let’s sell for (sic) three and a half pesos in the office of this printer” [3]

On March 21, 1851 the newspaper La Aurora announces in one of its sections the sale of the Geotopographic Chart of the Western Department, with the credit of Pichardo. This time, it communicates “is open in the shop to (sic) doublé of to four each of the pages, the second of which includes Matanzas, Cárdenas will leave (sic) light within a few days” [4].

Pichardo received innumerable recognitions for his scientific work, granted by institutions such as the Royal Economic Society of the Country and the Royal Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Havana, bastions of science at that time. In 1865 ceases in his position of archivist of the Direction of Public Works. This geographer, who ventured as a poet, historian, philosopher and naturalist, was abandoned by his contemporaries in a difficult economic situation, with his family. He died in Havana on August 26, 1879.

[1] García, R. et al. (2002). One hundred figures of science in Cuba. Scientific-Technical Editorial Havana, Cuba.

[2] The Aurora de Matanzas, November 22, 1845 p. 2

[3] The Aurora de Matanzas, August 15, 1846 p.3

[4] The Aurora de Matanzas, March 21, 1851 p.3

 

Original text by on Nov 29th, 2017

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