Biography of José de San Martín (1778-1850)

Liberator of Argentina, Chile and Peru, born in Yapeyú (today San Martín, Argentina) February 25, 1778 and died in Boulogne on August 17, 1850. The great personalities that gave reality to the independence of Spanish America include that of San Martín, by his Special selflessness, their fine political instinct and your generosity. San Martín and Bolívar, which did not understand each other, form the pair of the great leaders of the libertadores and his work, victories, qualities, significance of his performance, celebrity and even cult that is taxed them, no figure from the time of emancipation is at its height.

(See Simón Bolívar).

José de San Martín was the son of a Spanish official in the Río de la Plata in the province of Misiones, Juan de San Martín, who wasn't captain. Natural age of Cervatos de la Cueza (Palencia); his mother was Gregoria Matorras, Paredes de Nava (also in Palencia). He/She was the youngest son and his brothers were always officers of the Spanish army. In 1784 the family went to Spain and San Martín studied in Madrid, at the Royal Seminary of Nobles, it is believed, although this part of their education is not safe. At age eleven he/she sat square in the army and after taking part in several actions of war in Melilla, Oran, Roussillon, the battle of San Vicente in Portugal and the war of independence peninsular (battle of Bailén and Arjonilla in 1808), he/she was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel graduated. In the 22 years that belonged to the Spanish army he/she participated in 31 actions of war, being at the end of this stage of his life, Commander in the regiment of dragoons of Sagunto. Influenced by liberalism and the spirit of the masonic lodges, since like so many others, he/she belonged to the rational Knights Lautaro, announced the outbreak of the revolution of may in the Río de la Plata he/she decided to join the cause of the independence of his homeland. The way back took him first to England, where it started in the Lodge Grand meeting American of Francisco de Miranda, and in 1812, arrived in Buenos Aires, along with Alvear and Zapiola.(See America independence - independence - and Francisco de Mirandavoice).

In self-taught San Martín had acquired wide culture and read Encyclopedists and liberal authors. The triumvirate government granted the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of cavalry and entrusted the Organization of the regiment of grenadiers on horseback. San Martín won against the royalists the San Lorenzo de Paraná (1813), enjoying great fame leadership qualities with the mounted grenadiers and, later, in front of the army of the Alto Peru, which was as general for a short period at the beginning of 1814, by renouncing Belgrano for the bad results that had obtained his command. Shortly after arriving to Buenos Aires, San Martín and Alvear had organized the Lautaro Lodge, whose influence would be huge, dedicated to fight for American independence and to implement a liberal regime. It would be later taken to Chile and the Peru and would be the real secret government in all three countries to lend their name to one of the first ships of the new-born Chilean Navy for a few years. The lodge hosted the mutiny that toppled the first triumvirate in 1812. In August 1814 José de San Martín was appointed intendant of the Province Governor's whose. Before the failure of the expeditions to the Alto Peru, he/she was thought invade Peru, focus of the Spanish resistance, from Chile, but the defeat of the Chilean Patriots in Rancagua (1814) and the end of the old homeland forced separatists to postpone their plans and attend first to the emancipation of Chile. San Martín hosted in which fugitives from Chile, became in accordance with other generals that they fought for the emancipation of America, and culminated with O'Higgins, the plan for the liberation of Chile and Peru through the Organization of the army of the Andes.(See Bernardo O'Higgins).

In the rivalry between O'Higgins and Carrera, San Martín leaned decidedly by the first and dispensed completely with the second, which would allow it in later years enjoying strong influence in Chilean politics. The emancipatory project of San Martín was approved by the Argentine President Posadas and then by Pueyrredón, so that he/she could count on the political support needed to advance their project. Before undertaking the company, San Martín influenced to the Congress of Tucumán of 1816 to proclaim the independence of law from the Rio de la Plata and also bowed to the adoption of the monarchy, then the unitary party trend. The army passed the Andes at the foot of Mount Aconcagua, while other divisions crossed the mountains through other steps. The difficulty of traversing it with an army by natural obstacles, since the steps were not kept by the royalists, have made famous this crossing of the Andes and have been credited as a farsighted Chief and great strategist. Then San Martín defeated the royalists in Chacabuco and managed to conquer Santiago in 1817. There, despite its merits, he/she resigned from the post of Supreme dictator who offered the Chileans, with the appointment in O'Higgins. Not why he/she stopped supporting the cause of independence, which was resolutely claimed victory in Maipú in 1818 which directed the military operations, stressing once again as a solid and brilliant strategist. San Martín then rushed the penetration in the Peru, to declare its independence and deliver a final blow to the bulwark of the realistic resistance in South America. With the support of O'Higgins prepared army and previously formed a square, key to the success of the campaign, to achieve dominance of the sea, with the support of the English pirate Lord Cochrane. San Martín refused to lead his army to the Rio de la Plata in support of the Government, which was going through great difficulties, and with the assurance that the liberal insurrection of irrigation in 1820 would prevent the arrival of the Spanish expedition to subdue the Río de la Plata, landed in the Peruvian Viceroyalty in September 1820. San Martín, in order to avoid more bloodshed, wanted to resolve the independence issue through diplomatic channels and held talks with Pezuela, then La Serna, heads of the Peruvian royalists. The negotiations failed, so there was no other way out that continuing the war. San Martín entered Lima on July 9, 1821, and 28 proclaimed the independence of the Peru. Was proclaimed Protector, thus keeping some ambiguity about the form of Government, because he/she wanted a monarchy for the country. Reinforcements sent by San Martín to Sucre, fighting in the North against the royalists, enabled him to get the victory of Pichincha in 1822, which gave independence to the Ecuador.

The last outbreak of resistance Spanish was in the Alto Peru, and to beat him, San Martín met with Bolívar in Guayaquil, where was the help to the war, the question of the political regime and the annexation of Guayaquil to Colombia. There was apparently no compromise by Bolivar, so San Martín was faced with a real dilemma. On the one hand, its purpose in the interview had been the completion of the war of independence; on the other hand, his interlocutor, immersed in the political struggle, was not prepared at least in appearance to pass to the second plane that already own San Martín had placed itself. As a result of the lack of agreement the land left free to Bolivar, resigned from his position as protector to the Peruvian Congress and withdrew embarking on Ancon heading for Valparaíso. From there he/she spent to Santiago and Mendoza observing the different events and confrontations that took place in Peru, where critical with ferocity of his military and political intervention. Events were not much place for optimism, as it envisaged the overthrow of O'Higgins in Santiago and the Milter situation was far from being completely controlled. In 1824 San Martín finally obtained passport for travel to Europe, where it had decided to withdraw at least on a temporary basis to be part of the political infighting that characterized the first years of Republican life. After arriving at the French port of Le Havre he/she went to London and then moved to Brussels, to be constantly required to participate in various military and political campaigns. The spirit civil and conciliatory of San Martín, decided not to be cause for dissent, was clearly in 1829, when not landed from the ship which had returned it to bring to Buenos Aires, where had moved with the sole purpose of living his last years in a private retreat. After considering his position, he/she decided to return to Europe, trying to avoid the division in the country caused by his return. In Europe José de San Martín, he/she spent his last years, and after living in Paris and Brussels was established in 1834 in Boulogne, where you would be surprised the death in 1850. His ashes were repatriated to Argentina in 1880.


COLLIER, S. "Chile", in Leslie Bethell Ed., history of Latin America, Vol. 6, Barcelona, 1991

LUCENA SALMORAL, Manuel et al.: history of Latin America. Contemporary history, Madrid, 1988.

MAMONDE, C. José de San Martín, Madrid, history 16, 1987.

M. Lucena Giraldo.