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José Miguel Carrera
José Miguel Carrera Verdugo (15 October 1785 - 4 September 1821) was a Chilean general, considered one of the founders of Chile. Carrera ruled Chile during the period of the Patria Vieja , but after the Spanish Reconquista he lived in exile and died in Mendoza, executed by command of José de San Martín.
José Miguel belonged to the Carrera family; he was the son of Ignacio de la Carrera , and brother to Juan José Carrera , Luis Carrera and Javiera Carrera .
Born in Santiago, Carrera carried out his first studies in the Colegio Carolino , the best school in the country at the time. During these years, he became friends with Manuel Rodríguez, classmate and neighbour.
After school he was sent to Spain by his parents. There he joined the Spanish Army in 1808. He fought well against the Napoleonic forces, obtaining the rank of Sergeant Major and receiving the command of the Húsares de Galicia regiment.
In Spain he also made contact with the American independence movement and joined the Logia Lautaro.
The Patria Vieja
When he learned about the Junta de Gobierno that had been established in Chile to rule during the absence of the Spanish monarch, he went back to Chile and got involved in politics. As the Carreras were one of the three major political forces, he became part of the government. On 15 November 1811 the Carreras made a coup d'état and José Miguel became the sole ruler of Chile (his brothers were military commanders). Because Carrera had a personal and Chilean-national point of view about Chilean independence, he came into conflict with the Logia Lautaro, which had a more Latin-Americanist point of view .
During his government, and influenced by Joel Roberts Poinsett, first United States envoy to Chile, he helped create several Chilean national symbols and institutions. Carrera created the first Chilean Constitution, promoted the press and made the first Chilean flag and coat of arms.
As the Spanish Army and Navy invaded the South of Chile, he became Commander in Chief of the patriotic forces and left the government. He had a successful campaign, expelling the Spaniards from the city of Concepción.
Soon after, he left the Army and took control of the government of Chile. Bernardo O'Higgins didn't acknowledge him and fought against the Carrerian army at Talca. During this chaos, the Spanish army took Concepción again and advanced towards Santiago. Re-united Chilean forces settled in Rancagua, where they were defeated by general Mariano Osorio in the Disaster of Rancagua, (1-2 October 1814).
Argentina and the United States
With the defeat of the Chilean forces, many patriots escaped to Mendoza, Argentina which was governed at the time by José de San Martín. As San Martín was a member of the Lautaro Lodge, he welcomed O'Higgins and his allies. José Miguel and his brothers travelled to Buenos Aires, where César Alvear , a friend since the war against Napoleon in Spain, lived.
While Alvear was in government, Carrera was in a good position in Buenos Aires. But after Alvear was overthrown, power was taken by members of Logia Lautaro. So Carrera sailed to the United States, and with the help of Poinsett, obtained on credit five ships with crew for the Chilean indendence enterprise.
However, as he arrived in Buenos Aires, the Argentinian government confiscated the fleet and put Carrera in prison. During his imprisonment, San Martin and O'Higgins organised an army in Mendoza (mostly with Chileans in exile), crossed the Andes and defeated the Spaniards in the battle of Chacabuco on 12 February 1817.
When Carrera was released, he went to Montevideo and founded a newspaper, which wrote against the Argentinian government. During this time, his two brothers were executed in Mendoza by the orders of San Martín.
Subsequently, he joined the Argentinian federalist leaders and fought against the unitarian government. Carrera and the federalist forces defeated the government and entered Buenos Aires. On 23 February 1820, they signed the Treaty of El Pilar : the document that established the Argentinian federal system.
As a result of this treaty, Carrera received troops, which he marched towards to Chile. However, he was intercepted in Mendoza and taken prisoner. After being put on trial, he was executed on 4 September 1821.
Carrera is today considered one of the Padres de la Patria (Father of the Nation). The conflict between followers of O'Higgins and Carrera continues to some extent to this day, when many declare themselves Carrerists or O'Higginists. Carrerists claim that his figure is not give enough recognition, in comparation with O'Higgins.
In the Patagonian Region there is the General Carrera lake . Also, one of his legacies, the oldest high school in Chile, has also his name: Instituto Nacional General José Miguel Carrera .
His grandson Ignacio Carrera Pinto died during the battle of La Concepción , in the War of the Pacific.
- Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas José Miguel Carrera (in Spanish).
- La Aurora de Chile (in Spanish). Newspaper of 1810's online.
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