Santiago O'Higgins xo.
By Santiago and O'Higgins, E.
BERNARDO O'HIGGINS (1778-1842), one of the foremost leaders in the Chilean struggle for independence and head of the first permanent national government, was a natural son of the Irishman Ambrosio O'Higgins, governor of Chile (1788-1796), and was born at Chillan on the 20th of August 1778.
The rivalry that ensued, in spite of O'Higgins's generous offer to serve under Carrera, eventually resulted in O'Higgins being isolated and overwhelmed with the bulk of the Chilean forces at Rancagua in 1814.
O'Higgins with most of the patriots fled across the Andes to Mendoza, where Jose de San Martin was preparing a force for the liberation of Chile.
San Martin espoused O'Higgins's part against Carrera, and O'Higgins, recognizing the superior ability and experience of San Martin, readily consented to serve as his subordinate.
After the battle of Chacabuco O'Higgins was entrusted with the administration of Chile, and he ruled the country firmly and well, maintaining the close connexion with the Argentine, co-operating loyally with San Martin in the preparation of the force for the invasion of Peru, and seeking, as far as the confusion and embarrassments of the time allowed, to improve the welfare of the people.
O'Higgins at first tried to maintain his position by calling a congress and obtaining a constitution which invested him with dictatorial powers.
But popular discontent grew in force; risings took place in Concepcion and Coquimbo, and on the 28th of January 1823 O'Higgins was finally patriotic enough to resign his post of director-general, without attempting to retain it by force.
Vicuña Machenna, Vida de O'Higgins (Santiago, 1882), and M.
Armunategni, La Dictadura de O'Higgins (Santiago, 1853) both containing good accounts of O'Higgins's career.
The second most important mining industry in Chile, however, is that of copper, which is found in the provinces of Antofagasta, Atacama, Coquimbo, Aconcagua, Valparaiso, Santiago, O'Higgins, Colchagua, Curico and Talca, but the richest deposits are in the three desert provinces.
For three years the Spaniards maintained their hold on Chile, ruling the country with tyrannical harshness, but in the spring of 1817 a patriot force which had been organized at Mendoza in the Argentine by Jose de San Martin, an Argentine officer, and by O'Higgins, crossed the Andes and overwhelmed the royalists at the battle of Chacabuco.
O'Higgins was named director-general of Chile, while San Martin, realizing that the independence of each colony depended on the Spanish being expelled from the whole of South America, set about preparing an invasion of Peru.
By this battle the independence of Chile, formally proclaimed by O'Higgins in the previous February, was finally secured.
O'Higgins as directorgeneral, rightly perhaps, considered that firm orderly government was more important than the concession of liberal institutions, but his administration roused strong hostility, and in 1823 he was compelled to resign.
Vicuna Machenna, Vida de O'Higgins (Santiago, 1882), giving a useful account of the revolutionary struggle and the main actors; and the same author's Historia jeneral de la republics de Chile, a collection of essays on the early republican history by various writers.