The Chilean-Irish revolutionary who led the 1810 revolution against the Royalist. Yes, that's right; with his fairly notable facial hair, this Irishman successfully secured Chile's independence and even became the first supreme "director" (read: dictator)! He led quite an interesting, yet generic revolutionary/dictatorial life:

  • Born August 20, 1778 in Chile as Bernardo Riquelme, illegitimate son of Isabel Riquelme, daughter of Chilean aristocrat, and Don Ambrosio O'Higgins, “Chile’s Postal hero."
  • Educated in Chile, then travels to Peru and London to study liberal arts. In London, meets his mentor in revolutionary thinking, Sebastian Francisco de Miranda y Rodriguez.
  • Moves to Spain, meets and befriends Jose de San Martin. In 1800, he leaves Spain to return to Chile, but heads back due to the fighting between British and the Spanish and French. Inherits his father’s estate one year later.
  • Napoleon invades Spain in 1808; the Spanish throne is given to Napoleon’s brother, Joseph.
  • September 18, 1810, leaders met in Santiago, capital of Chile, and formed a limited self-government because Spanish throne was not restored. This is celebrated as Chilean Independence Day. Many, including Bernardo O'Higgins, wanted complete independence. The Royalists wanted Chile to return to royal rule.
  • Created a small, armed militia, which held its first battle against Royalists in the 1813 Sorpresa del Roble. His army won several victories afterwards and Bernardo is named Commander in Chief of Chile. In 1814, the French were defeated in Spain, and after a series of losses, Bernardo is taken out of power. With help from Peru, the royalists defeat Bernardo’s army at Battle of Rancagua, and Bernardo is pushed back into Argentina.
  • Re-groups with old friend Jose de San Martin, and in January 1817, joins him in the march over the Andes. On February 12, at the Battle of Chacobuco, the royalist are defeated. On the 14th, Santiago was taken and the Independence of Chile is declared. Finally, on April 5th, regrouped royalist forces were defeated at the Battle of Maipú, securing Chilean Independence.
  • From 1817, Bernardo O’Higgins held supreme power in Chile. He began programs for economic and social peace and order, and organized the Chilean navy that helped the fight for the independence of Peru. He established courts, colleges, libraries, hospitals, and cemeteries and modernized the cities of Chile.
  • Unfortunately, he created many enemies:
    • The church was angry with him because of the reforms implemented
    • Businesses were angry with him and his little political experience
  • In 1823, he left Chile to reside in Lima until his death in 1842.

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