- Rider(s):O'Higgins, Bernardo / San Martin, José de
(1778–1842) was a Chilean independence leader who, together with José de San Martin, freed Chile from Spanish rule in the Chilean War of Independence. He is seen as one of Chile‘s founding fathers. O’Higgins was the illegitimate son of the later Viceroy of Peru, who was concerned about his education, but whom he never met in person. At seventeen Bernardo O’Higgins was sent to London to complete his studies. There he became acquainted with the American ideas of independence. Having returned in Chile he became a member of the anti-Royalist camp of the independence movement. This camp was deeply split along lines of patronage and personality, by political beliefs, and by geography. The Carrera family having already seized power supported a specifically Chilean nationalism, as opposed to the broader Latin American focus of the other group, which included O’Higgins and José de San Martín. Defeated by the Spanish troops in 1814 O’Higgins went in exile in Argentina. There he met José de San Martin and together with him he returned to Chile in 1817 to defeat the royalist army in three battles. San Martín was offered the position of power in Chile, but he declined, in order to continue the fight for independence in the rest of South America. O’Higgins accepted the position instead, and became the leader of an independent Chile.
Carrera was imprisoned to prevent his involvement in Chilean affairs and executed under questionable circumstances in 1821. For six years, O’Higgins was a largely successful leader, and his government initially functioned well. In time, however, O’Higgins began to alienate important political groupings within the still-fragile Chilean nation. Powerful large landowners resisted his radical and liberal reform proposals, such as the establishment of democracy and abolition of titles of nobility. O’Higgins was deposed by a conservative coup in 1823 and lived in exile for the rest of his life near Lima in Peru.
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