Chile 1837 CE

Chile has won its independence from Spain thanks largely to Bernardo O'Higgins.

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What is happening in Chile in 1837CE

In 1810, with the invasion of Spain by Napoleon, a junta of local leaders in Santiago started governing the region of Chile in place of the Spanish-appointed governor, who resigned. The next few years were characterized by turbulent politics. In 1811 Jose Miguel Carrera seized control and became dictator, but instability remained. A see-saw struggle between Carrera and the military commander Bernardo O’Higgins dominated politics, but this period saw trade liberalised, the first steps taken to abolish slavery, newspapers founded, and education promoted.

A pro-Spanish army re-imposed control in 1814. Several thousand Chileans, including Bernardo O’Higgins, escaped across the Andes into Argentina. In 1817 the liberation army of San Martin, with O’Higgins one of its commanders, cleared the Spanish forces from the region, and O’Higgins was installed as “Supreme Director” of Chile.

The new leader established a measure of peace and stability within Chile, and presided over a brilliant naval campaign (under the tactical leadership of British officers) against the Spanish, and a major military expedition against pro-Spanish forces still holding out in Peru. However, once the threat to Chile was passed, support for O’Higgins dwindled. Opposition from the local landowning elite, with its interests focussed much more on Chile than on the wider pan-South American movement as a whole (with which O’Higgins was associated), led to his abdication in 1823.

Some years of political turmoil followed, which caused severe economic and social disorder. In 1830, however, a new dictator came to power, Diego Portales. He engineered a compromise constitution (1833) which created a firm central government, open to strong influence from the landowners through their control of parliament.

Next map, Chile in 1871

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