BECK index

Bolivian Nations 1830-50

by Sanderson Beck

Peru 1831-50
Bolivia 1829-50
Venezuela 1830-50
New Granada (Colombia) 1830-50
Ecuador 1830-50
Chile 1831-50

This chapter has been published in the book Latin America & Canada to 1850. For ordering information please click here.

Peru 1831-50

Peru’s Revolution 1819-22
Bolívar in Peru & Bolivia 1823-25

      In 1828 the Guia de Forasteros published that the population of Peru was 1,248,723 people. On 31 August 1829 Peru’s Congress chose Agustín Gamarra a provisional President with La Fuente as Vice President. Military spending was 48% of Peru’s budget in 1827 and rose to 59% in 1831. That August Chilean diplomacy prevented a border war between Peru and Bolivia. José María de Pando had been a minister for Bolivar, and in 1832 and 1833 he promoted his ideas in the bi-weekly La Verdad. In Pando’s salon in Arequipa he and the orator Andrés Martinez persuaded Manuel Ignacio Vivanco and the officer Felipe Santiago Salaverry to use force to implement their conservative philosophy. Gamarra served until December 1833. He wanted Pedro Pablo Bermúdez to succeed him, but Luna Pizarro returned from exile and persuaded the Congress to elect Luis José de Orbegoso president. Gamarra and Bermúdez started a civil war, and the latter was the provisional supreme ruler from 4 January 1834; but on April 5 constitutionalist forces led by Domingo Nieto defeated the rebels led by San Ramón at Cangallo. José Rufino Echenique changed sides to support Orbegoso on the 23rd, and the next day Orbegoso became President again.
      The Constitution of 1834 increased civilian control to reduce the power of the military. Congress determined the size of the armed forces and elected a council of war. In January 1835 the Callao garrison mutinied and supported La Fuente to replace Orbegoso, and Salaverry led the force that defeated them. Then on February 23 Salaverry challenged the government, and Orbegoso fled north from Lima. Salaverry took over the capital and proclaimed himself “Supreme Chief.” Orbegoso made a deal with Bolivia’s leader Santa Cruz, offering him a third of Peru. The Bolivian army invaded Peru, and Salaverry retreated back to Arequipa. His forces won a battle at Uchumayo on 4 February 1836 but were defeated three days later. General Miller betrayed Salaverry by turning him over to Santa Cruz who ordered him executed, but Salaverry survived. Santa Cruz then allied with Orbegoso against Salaverry and Gamarra. Santa Cruz wanted to head a confederation of three states with Bolivia and Peru divided into north and south. Gamarra met in Cuzco with Felipe Pardo, and they agreed to recognize Salaverry as President of Peru. The army of Santa Cruz conquered southern Peru by mid-year while Gamarra went to Lima to join Salaverry who banished Gamarra and was defeated by Santa Cruz and finally executed on 19 February 1836. Santa Cruz ruled Peru as interim President for two years from August 1836.
      Orbegoso and Bolivia’s President Andrés Santa Cruz formed a confederation of Bolivia and Peru, and Orbegoso was President of North Peru from August 1837 to July 1838. He founded the Sociedad de Beneficencia Pública de Lima with a board of 40 prominent citizens to endow hospitals and other welfare, and by 1839 they owned more than a tenth of the private houses in the city. A head tax called a contribución was selectively enforced against native Americans and Mestizos. Those unable to pay mortgages lost their land, reducing some of these two oppressed ethnic groups nearly to slavery. Communal lands of indigenous communities were broken up. Peruvian exiles appealed to Chile, and their General Manuel Bulnes led an army that included the Peruvian leaders Gamarra, Gutierrez de la Fuente, and Ramón Castilla. The historian José de la Riva Agüero was President of North Peru from August 1838 to January 1839. South Peru had two independent presidents from September 1837 to February 1839.
      In August 1838 Gamarra and La Fuente occupied Lima, and Gamarra became President again. They defeated the Confederate army led by Santa Cruz in the Yungay province on 20 January 1839. Gamarra influenced the constitution of 1839 that gave the President a six-year term and more power, and it was in effect until 1854 except 1842-45. In early 1841 Manuel Ignacio Vivanco opposed Gamarra; but San Ramón supported Gamarra, and with Castilla they defeated Vivanco’s armies. After Bolivia recalled the exiled Santa Cruz from Ecuador, Peru’s Council of State approved war against Bolivia. Gamarra tried to form a confederation by invading Bolivia, but on November 18 Bolivians were victorious at Ingavi and killed Gamarra.
      Between 1826 and 1865 Peru had 34 chief executives. Only four were elected by Congress or the electoral college, and four-fifths were military officers. The production from Peru’s silver mines had decreased since the colonial era to 95,261 marks in 1830 and then went up to 307,214 in 1840; but this was in silver coins, and exports reduced the money supply. Also in 1840 steamships began appearing in the Pacific Ocean, and British capitalists helped Ramón Castilla organize the mining of guano (bird-dung deposits) for export that became a very lucrative business. However, the ammonia fumes harmed the skin and blinded some workers who were mostly native Americans. In 1854 and 1857 Easter Islanders and Polynesians were brought to Peru to work with guano, and most of them died.
      In early 1843 the military leader Manuel Ignacio de Vivanco seized power and proclaimed himself president, and José Rufino Echenique supported him. Castilla and Domingo Nieto organized constitutionalist forces in the south, and they fought Vivanco’s army on August 29 at Pachia in Taona and again in Moquegua in October. Nieto died in February 1844, but Castilla led their army and defeated Vivanco’s forces at Carmen Alto on 22 July 1844. Castilla acted as President of Peru for six months from February 1844 to August when he reinstated Manuel Menéndez as the constitutional president.
      Castilla was elected president, and at his inauguration on 20 April 1845 he promised law and order. His mother was a native American, but Castilla made travel between Lima and Trujillo safer by reducing the activities of the numerous bandoleros. He participated in religious festivals and ceremonies. He sent political opponents who plotted against him into exile but only for short periods and then granted them amnesty. From 1839 to 1845 the tax on native Americans averaged 1,757,296 pesos per year, but it was reduced to 830,826 in 1846. On 21 October 1845 he sent Peru’s first national budget to Congress, and a general accounting bureau was set up in 1848. By that year interest had increased Peru’s debt to Britain to £4,380,530. Castilla expanded public education at all levels, and in 1847 he founded a military secondary school (colegio) and a naval school. In 1850 a census found more than two million people in Peru but missed some who did not pay taxes.

Bolivia 1829-50

      When Bolivia became independent in 1825, there were about 800,000 native Americans, 200,000 Europeans, 100,000 Mestizos, 4,700 African slaves, and 2,300 free Africans. The main languages were Quechua and Aymara, and about one-fifth of the people spoke Spanish. General Andrés Santa Cruz returned to Bolivia in May 1829 and ruled the nation for ten years. In 1829 he eliminated the colonial mining tax, and other taxes were reduced to 5%. In 1830 the 3% gold tax was also ended. Military expenses were about 45% of the budget. Bolivia was fairly peaceful until June 1835 when their army invaded Peru during their civil war that led to the defeat of Gamarra and Salaverry who was executed in February 1836. Marshal Andrés de Santa Cruz was the chief organizer of the Confederation of Bolivia with North Peru and South Peru that proclaimed the Republic of South Peru on 17 March 1836 and of North Peru on August 11. A Chilean army invaded Peru in 1838. Santa Cruz and his Confederate army were defeated in Yungay on 20 January 1839, and he resigned as Supreme Protector on February 20. The Confederation dissolved.
      José Miguel de Velasco Franco had been Vice President of Bolivia from May 1829 to July 1835, and he became President on 22 February 1839. He turned against Santa Cruz and had his personal possessions confiscated. Velasco presided over the writing of a new constitution and implemented some reforms. General José Ballivián led a revolt by those favoring Santa Cruz, and they removed Velasco in June 1841. A Peruvian army invaded Bolivia and without a battle took over La Paz in October. Argentina supported Velasco’s army in the south while Ballivián supported Gamarra’s attempt to take over part of Bolivia for a while. Then Ballivián turned against Gamarra and took control of Bolivia’s government to oppose the Peruvians. On November 18 at Ingavi his army defeated the invaders and killed Gamarra. This ended Bolivia’s economic obligations to Peru from the Confederation. Ballivián was President of Bolivia from 27 September 1841 to December 1847 during a period of peace. National revenues increased to two million pesos by the late 1840s while native tribute was still providing 40% of the revenue. A census in 1846 counted 1.4 million Bolivians while an additional 700,000 natives were living outside the government in the eastern lowland territories. La Paz had 43,000 people and Cochabamba 30,000. In 1847 only 22,000 children or 10% of that age group were in school, and only 7% of the population was literate.
      Velasco was President from 18 January 1848 until the troops of General Manuel Isidoro Belzu proclaimed him President on 8 December 1848. During his years in office Belzu faced about 35 revolts and several assassination attempts, but in 1855 he was the first Bolivian President to resign voluntarily since Sucre in 1828.

Venezuela 1830-50

      Venezuela was founded as a republic with a constitution in 1830 when it had an estimated 800,000 people. On January 13 General José Antonio Páez set up a provisional government with himself as President and a cabinet. He summoned a Constituent Congress to meet in Valencia, the new capital, on May 6, and Páez declared, “My sword, my lance, and all my military triumphs are submitted with the most respectful obedience to the decisions of the law.”1 The new constitution they passed was proclaimed on October 23. That month the Congress had extended the period before manumission of slaves was required. Voting was still restricted to primary elections by men of means. The legislature included a Senate with two from each province and a House of Representatives with one representative for every 20,000 people. The President was elected for a four-year term but could not run for re-election until later. The Electoral College chose the President and the Vice President whose term provided a transition from the last two years of one President to the first two years of the next.
      The Congress met in Valencia in March 1831 and proclaimed the election of President Páez and Vice President Diego Bautista Urbaneja. The debt from the war of independence was apportioned in December 1834 with Colombia responsible for 50%, Venezuela for 28.5%, and Ecuador with 21.5%. Venezuela’s exports of 3 million pesos in the early 1930s doubled by the early 1840s. Venezuela made commercial and navigation treaties, notably with Hanseatic cities in 1837. In this era political crimes could get the death penalty, and the churches lost their tax exemptions and their control over education. The Conservatives even allowed this stable state to have autonomy over the military, and new roads aided trade.
      Five candidates ran for president in 1835, and Páez shifted from supporting Carlos Soublette to helping the Electoral College choose José María Vargas. After his resignation, which Congress refused to accept, in June 1835 the military revolted in Maracaibo and a few days later in Caracas. They arrested Vargas and banished him to St. Thomas on June 10. General Santiago Mariño took power in the name of reform, and a Popular Assembly made Páez provisional president with Mariño as commander-in-chief. In the east José Tadeo Monagas proclaimed a federation as he had in 1831. Páez disarmed enough rebels in July so that Vargas could return in August as President. Páez proclaimed an amnesty that allowed Monagas and other officers to keep their ranks; but Congress punished rebels in Puerto Cabello. Vargas did not like the conflict and resigned again in April 1836. Two other men were President until Soublette served from March 1837 to February 1839 when Páez was re-elected with 212-10 vote by the electors for another four years. In or out of office Páez dominated.
      In 1840 Antonio Leocadio Guzmán founded the Liberal party, and Fermín Toro became a leader of the Conservative party. Most newspapers supported one of these two parties. Guzmán’s El Venezolano newspaper called for abolition of slavery, extending voting rights, and protection for debtors. Federalists and the Monagas family brought the Liberal party to power. In the 1842 elections the Conservative candidate Soublette won, and he served 1843-47. In the 1844 elections the Liberals used aggressive tactics, and the Government called out the militia. In the 1846 election the Liberals had three candidates. Only 319 out of 8,798 electors voted, and Congress chose the Conservative José Tadeo Monagas who had 107 votes. Liberals rose up and were suppressed. Leaders were tried, and Guzmán was exiled.
      On 23 January 1848 Conservatives in Congress formed a private guard for protection. The next day the Government had army officers and a mob attack the guard, and they insulted the members. When the elected members tried to leave, several were killed along with a few spectators. On the 25th Monagas made the Congress grant amnesty and give him dictatorial power. Páez led the first revolt in February and March, but they were forced to take refuge in New Granada. On April 3 Monagas pleased liberals by abolishing the death penalty for political crimes, and a credit law repealed the rule that political rights could be stopped by debt. On June 21 revolts broke out in Caracas, Guarico, and Aragua, and in the capital the Belisario brothers led paecistas in an attack on the presidential palace against Monagas; but they were stopped and fled. In July 1849 Conservatives rose up in Caracas, but they also failed. Páez was banished but was kept in prison for months before his exile that lasted until 1858.

New Granada (Colombia) 1830-50

Bolívar & Colombia 1817-25
Bolívar & Northern Conflicts 1826-30

      What was later called “Gran Colombia” had been formed in 1819-20 when Bolívar led the liberation of New Granada from Spain. With the spread of independence the federation was dissolved in 1830-31 and became New Granada, Venezuela, and Ecuador. New Granada’s government under President Joaquin Mosquera in Bogotá continued to use the name Colombia for a while according to the Constitution of 1830. In August the military deposed Mosquera and replaced him with the Venezuelan General Rafael Urdaneta who served for eight months. Generals José María Obando and José Hilario Lopez led the military that persuaded him to resign. Obando was Vice President and governed until Congress under the new Constitution of 1832 elected José Ignacio de Márquez in March. Voting was still limited to men with property or sufficient income, but they delayed implementation of the literary requirement from 1840 to 1850. Local assemblies gained the authority to make ordinances for schools, roads, etc. The military lost their exemption from jurisdiction that was retained for the clergy. The military in Panama supported the liberals and restored that region to New Granada.
      General Francisco de Paula Santander had been Bolívar’s Vice President of Colombia 1821-27, and he became President of New Granada in October 1832 and began a four-year term in 1833. A conspiracy led by Catalan General José Sardá was discovered. Most were easily caught, and 17 were executed in Bogotá’s main square. Sardá escaped, but loyal officers pretended to join his organization and shot him dead in 1834. New Granada spent about half its budget on the military with an army of 3,300 men. In 1835 a census counted 1,686,000 people in New Granada with 40,000 in Bogotá, the only large city. Congress abolished the regressive alcabala sales tax over the President’s veto. Government monopolies of tobacco and salt with other taxes provided most of the revenue. Santander increased the number of children going to primary schools from 17,000 to over 20,000, and he had new secondary schools opened. The Catholic religion was predominant, and New Granada formed diplomatic relations with the papacy, though the state kept a role in ecclesiastical appointments. Santander wanted to be succeeded by Obando, but he was suspected of being behind the assassination of the heroic General Sucre.
      Instead the civilian Dr. José Ignacio de Márquez was supported by the Bolivarians and was elected President in 1837. He got the agreement dividing up Gran Colombia’s debt ratified, and he formed diplomatic relations with Spain. When Congress tried to suppress the smaller monasteries in Pasto, a revolt broke out in 1839 that was called the “War of the Supremes” because local leaders called themselves jefe supremo. The Pastusos were put down, but in 1840 Obando revived the effort, and he was supported by Santanderistas who called themselves “Progresistas.” Santander had been elected to the Chamber of Representatives; he opposed violent revolt but died in May. Supreme Director Obando favored a federal system, and the uprising spread. The Bolivarian generals Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera and Pedro Alcántara Herrán suppressed the rebellion by early 1842, and Congress elected Herrán President in 1841.
      These Conservatives issued another constitution in 1843 that strengthened the executive, and Herrán invited the Jesuits to come back in order to improve education. His Secretary of the Interior Mariano Ospina Rodríguez removed Bentham and other modern thinkers from the curriculum, and they tried to focus on natural sciences and useful studies. They extended the work requirement for the children of slaves from up to the age of 18 to 25. In 1843 they allowed slave owners to export slaves to other countries. Mosquera was elected President in 1845, and he supported public works and technical development, introducing the metric system and modern bookkeeping. Steam navigation began on the Magdalena River. The Mallarino-Bidlack Treaty was negotiated with the United States in 1846 to guarantee New Granada’s sovereignty and protect transit over the Panama isthmus which led to the nation’s first railroad there. Independent Florentino González became Secretary of Finance, and tariff duties were reduced by 25% in 1847. The government’s tobacco monopoly was eventually abolished in 1850.
     The Liberal candidate José Hilario López got a plurality of the votes over two Conservatives, and in the Congress the Conservative Ospina helped López become President in 1849. Artisans angry about reduced tariffs on imports supported López. Congress raised custom duties, but not enough to satisfy the artisans. In May mostly privatized tobacco was freed of state control.

Ecuador 1830-50

      After Venezuela withdrew from Gran Colombia, in May 1830 a constitutional congress met in Quito to prevent that happening there; but on the 31st General Juan José Flores called a constituent assembly to meet in Riobamba. From August 10 to September 22 they devised a constitution for a new nation named Ecuador after the equator with a federal government for three equal states of Quito, Guayaquil, and Azuay. The Roman Catholic Church was established, but the government controlled patronage and collected tithes. Congress was elected indirectly and chose the president and vice president, an executive who appointed officials, judges, and bishops. Thirty deputies had one-year terms and elected Flores President for four years. He was born in Venezuela and rose in the military, married an influential heiress, and was supported by the councils of Quito and Pasto. Bolivarians led by General Urdaneta fought to maintain Gran Colombia there starting in Guayaquil on November 28, but after Bolívar’s death on December 17 Urdaneta and 25 officers left the country. Flores had an army of 2,000 men with many foreigners, and the military budget of 200,000 pesos was most of the government’s 387,973 pesos of revenues. Colombians prevented Flores from annexing Cauca and Popayan, and the Río Tulcán became the northern border with Peru. In 1832 Ecuador did annex the Archipiélago de Colón (Galápagos Islands).
      President Flores was criticized for appointing a Colombian as Minister of the Treasury, and in 1833 the English liberal Col. Francisco Hall founded El Quiteño Libre to oppose the conservative government; but their periodical lasted only four months until September 14 when Congress approved the suppression of that society. Six days later the El Quiteño Libre Society began a revolt in Guayaquil that was supported by the liberal Vicente Rocafuerte. On October 10 soldiers killed Col. Hall and three society members. Rocafuerte had a large estate in Chihuahua, Mexico, and the revolt was called the “War of the Chihuahuas.” The army defeated the rebels at Sabaneta and Mapasingue. In 1834 President Flores came to an agreement with Rocafuerte, and fighting ended after the battle of Miñarca on 18 January 1835.
      Vicente Rocafuerte governed the Guayas state from September 1834 to June 1835. A constitutional convention met in June with Vice President José Joaquín de Olmedo presiding. On 8 August 1835 the Ambato Convention elected Vicente Rocafuerte Ecuador’s second President, and his term ended in January 1839. He was born in Guayaquil and well educated in Europe learning six languages. Rocafuerte was influenced by the French Revolution and the government of the United States. From July 1821 to November 1823 he lived in New York and Philadelphia. In 1821 he published Ideas necesarias a todo pueblo Americano independiente, que quiera ser libre (Necessary Ideas for Every Independent American Nation which Wishes to Be Free). Then he wrote another book to support Mexican revolutionaries who drove Emperor Agustín de Iturbide into exile in May 1823. Also that year he wrote a book with his political ideas for a popular, elective, representative Colombian system that fit independent America. He urged a federalist republic after the example of the United States. From 1824 to 1829 Rocafuerte worked as a diplomat for Mexico in London.
      The liberal 1835 constitution strengthened Ecuador’s independence from Gran Colombia. It required the President to be born in Ecuador and made the House of Deputies more representational. Rocafuerte reduced the power of militaristic officers by forming the National Guard and by founding military academies for the army and navy. An attempt to start a girls school with a Quaker teacher aroused the opposition of the Bishop of Quito. Criminal cases were given trials by jury; public funding became regular; foreign debt payments were arranged; and a commission was appointed to codify the laws. In 1838 Congress reduced religious holidays and made 25 the age to join a religious order. When Rocafuerte left office in 1839, he returned to govern Guayaquil with more reforms.
      General Flores was re-elected President of Ecuador again on 15 January 1839. On 15 February 1840 Spain recognized Ecuador’s independence. Flores tried to annex Pasto and caused a failed war against Colombia. He had so many troubles that he dissolved the Congress in 1841, and they did not meet until 1843 to choose his successor. Instead a third constitutional convention met in Quito on 15 January 1843. Flores did not want to alternate the presidency with Rocafuerte, and this convention obediently passed what critics called “The Charter of Slavery” that gave the President a term of eight years followed by a possible a second term. The 27 senators were to be elected to 12-year terms, nine every four years. Thirty deputies were to be elected for eight years also, half every four years. Congress would meet only once every four years, and a permanent commission of five senators would advise in between. Only the Catholic Church was allowed public worship, but others could meet in private. On April 1 the Convention elected Flores president again with only two votes against him.
      While they were living in exile in Lima, Rocafuerte in A la Nación and Pedro Mancayo in La Linterna Mágica wrote promoting a revolution that began in Guayaquil in February 1845 led by Vicente Ramón Roca. Guayaquil’s Governor Manuel Espantoso learned of the plot and banished Roca, provoking the revolution that began on 6 March. In May citizens from Esmeraldas, Loja, and Alausí joined the uprising. When the acting Vice President Valdivieso moved the nation’s capital, Quito revolted. Flores made two peace treaties on June 17-18 at La Virginia hacienda. Flores resigned from the army but retained his rank and property and promised to move to Europe for two years. He left one week later, and on July 11 the provisional government summoned a national assembly to meet in Cuenca to revise the constitution and elect a president.
      The Liberal Rocafuerte was president of the Cuenca Convention that began on October 3, and in the next four months the 42 deputies created a liberal constitution with votes for all men. The President’s power to appoint bishops and other officials was reduced. Yet after 80 ballots the Conservative Vicente Ramón Roca was elected by a two-thirds vote, and he became President of Ecuador on 22 February 1846. The Convention rejected the La Virginia treaty and ordered the property of General Flores confiscated. Roca had attempts to make Flores dictator squelched, and he banished his supporters. Territory on the northern coast was made the province of Esmeraldas.
      In 1849 the Congress was divided between General Elizalde and the civilian Noboa y Arteta, and they could not elect a president. The honest Vice President Manuel Ascázubi governed for one year, but his posting governmental expenditures aroused greed. General José María Urbina and the candidates Elizalde and Noboa objected to a partisan of Flores being made foreign minister. On 20 February 1850 Urbina abandoned Ascasubi and took control of Guayaquil to finance a revolution. Noboa y Arteta was proclaimed chief of Ecuador on March 2, and Ascázubi resigned on June 10.

Chile 1831-50

Chilean Revolution 1817-30

      In the 1830s the Republic of Chile’s territory stretched from the Atacama Desert in the north and south to the frontier by the Biobío River, beyond which were several hundred thousand Mapuche natives called Araucanians by the Spaniards. Chile had few highways except between Valparaiso and Santiago. They used ships and began building railroads in the 1840s. An electric telegraph connected Santiago with Valparaiso in June 1852, but trains did not do so until September 1863. A census found more than one million people in 1835 and 1.8 million in 1865. From the 1830s to the 1860s more than 80% of Chileans were inquilinos (tenant workers) or worked on haciendas or barely survived by stealing. Mining silver and copper as well as agriculture were the largest exports.
      The Conservative government provided a Constitution in 1833 that gave much power to the president who was allowed two consecutive 5-year terms. Congress could vote him strong powers. When Congress was in recess, the Council of State could declare a state of siege that also suspended civil liberties. The administration had a hierarchy of command with provinces governed by intendants who were “agents” of the President. In 1830 General Prieto became President, and Diego Portales governed as Minister of the Interior and Foreign Affairs. Prieto began by removing 136 military officers who had served General Freire in the civil war. By the middle of 1831 the Civic Guard had 25,000 men, and it would more than double by 1850. The Civic Guard saved the Conservative government during a mutiny in June 1837 and quelled rebels in Santiago at Easter 1851. Only about 2% of the people were qualified to vote, though the literacy rule was ignored and only partially enforced after 1840. Governors influenced elections by how they distributed voting certificates so that often opponents could not register. In seven of the eleven congressional elections from 1833 to 1864 the opposition ran hardly any candidates.
      Portales resigned in August 1831; but he was appointed Minister of War and Navy on 21 September 1835 and Interior Minister on November 9. The second largest city Concepcion was ruined by an earthquake in February 1835. Then Santiago’s population of 70,000 increased to 120,000 by 1865. In July 1836 the electoral colleges gave all but 15 of their 158 votes to Prieto. After a brief tariff war Peru had imposed a duty on wheat from Chile which then doubled its tariff on Peruvian sugar. General Andrés Santa Cruz joined Peru with Bolívarhimself as Protector of the Confederation in October. Portales was concerned that exiled General Ramón Freire was planning to attack the Conservative government, and he demanded that the Confederation be dissolved; but Santa Cruz refused. The Chilean envoy Mariano Egaña declared war, and the Congress ratified it on December 24 and declared a state of siege in January 1837 for the war. Portales required returning exiles to get permission or be shot, and on February 2 permanent courts martial were ordered for every province with no appeals.
      Portales summoned Col. José Antonio Vadaurre and asked if he was conspiring to revolt. Vadaurre denied it but then captured Portales when he came to inspect his troops. Soldiers found the murdered body of Portales on 6 June 1837. His state funeral supported the Conservative regime. People believed that Vadaurre’s mutiny was supported by Santa Cruz’s agents. Admiral Manuel Blanco Encalada led an army of 2,800 to Islay in Peru, and they occupied Arequipa but were devastated by disease. Santa Cruz led an army that surrounded the city, and on November 17 he got Blanco Encalada to accept the treaty of Paucarpata in which
Chile recognized the Confederation. General Manuel Bulnes led a force of 5,400 soldiers from Valparaiso in July 1838, and they won a small naval battle at Casma on 12 January 1839. Bulnes invaded a northern state in Peru that was asserting independence and demanded that Chileans leave. Bulnes had his army occupy Lima, but then they withdrew to the north. Santa Cruz led a force that followed them, but the Chileans vanquished the Peruvians at Yungay as about 2,000 men were killed.
      Liberals formed a Patriotic Society in February 1840, and they began working for opposition candidates. They successfully opposed the Minister of Justice Egaña’s attempt to weaken the 1828 law on press freedom, and Egaña resigned in March 1841. The triumphant Manuel Bulnes was Prieto’s nephew, and Chileans elected him their President in September and again in 1846. The scholarly lawyer Manuel Montt became Minister of Justice. Chileans established a settlement on the Straits of Magellan in September 1843 and then made it a penal colony.
      Chile began teacher colleges for men in 1842 and for women in 1854. In November 1842 El Progreso became Santiago’s first daily newspaper. Valparaiso’s El Mercurio had become a daily newspaper in 1829. In 1848 they began publishing an edition for Santiago, and another with some English sold up the coast as far as Panama. External trade began increasing in the 1840s.
      Manuel Camilo Vial was the cousin of President Bulnes and became Interior Minister and temporary Finance Minister. He gave contracts and good jobs to three of his brothers, and the press criticized him. In October 1849 a Reform Club began, and a Progressive Party emerged promoted by the El Progreso newspaper. In 1850 Federico Errázuriz warned Congress not to prevent the Republic’s march to civilization. He and José Victorino Lastarria issued a manifesto for equal rights before the law, free expression, inviolable property, free education, and private industry. They accepted universal suffrage for all men. The Society for Equality tried to take on the new tyrants.


1. Simón Bolívar: A Life by John Lynch, p. 269.

Copyright © 2006, 2012, 2021 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book Latin America & Canada to 1850. For ordering information please click here.


Caribbean & Central America to 1580
West Indies 1580-1850
Central America 1580-1850
Incas, Peru & Chile to 1817
Brazil & Guiana 1500-1850
Southern South America to 1850
New Granada & Bolívar to 1830
Bolivian Nations 1830-50
Mexico to 1768
Mexico & Independence 1768-1831
Mexico & Wars 1832-50
Iroquois & French in America 1534-1744
Canada 1744-1817
Canada under British Rule 1817-50
Summary & Evaluation of Latin America & Canada to 1850

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