William A. Harris ably served the United States as chargé d'affaires at Buenos Aires from June, 1846, until October, 1851, during one of the most critical periods in Argentine history. When he went to his post of duty, Argentina was suffering both from external and internal strife. France and England had intervened in affairs in the Río de la Plata, and had blockaded the coast. Relations between Argentina and two of her neighbors, Paraguay and Brazil, were strained. The government of Buenos Aires was fomenting civil war in Uruguay. There was mounting tension between Buenos Aires and the back country provinces. Public discontent prevailed within Buenos Aires Province. Foreign nationals residing there became increasingly apprehensive about the future of their business enterprises. The heavy hand of the violent caudillo, Juan Manuel de Rosas, Governor of Buenos Aires Province, was felt throughout the entire area of the Río de la Plata. His position was so strong that in most respects he controlled affairs of the whole Argentine Confederation, comprising fourteen provinces.