Biography of José de San Martín | Hero of independence.

(José Francisco de San Martín and Matorras; Today San Martín, Yapeyú, Corrientes, Argentina, 1778 - Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, 1850) hero of American independence, libertador of Chile and Peru.
The uniqueness of José of San Martín's heroic profile is given, rather than by his foreign exploits, the grandeur of the interior of his character. Few public men can exhibit a track record as clean in the history of America: having reached the maximum military glory in the most decisive battles, then resigned with dogged consistency to assume political power, complying with win long-awaited freedom which fought for Hispanic-American peoples.

José de San Martín
His military campaigns changed the sign of American history during the decolonization process that took place at the beginning of the 19th century. With his strategic brilliance should be military approaches that would lead to the independence of Chile and Peru, hub of the Spanish power whose fall would lead to the whole continent. If then it left less noble grueling partisan and civil wars which ended up interfere most beautiful dreams of the Patriots, it was that same purity and rectitude of principles. Achacoso, delayed and blind, San Martin die decently in his bed, in a remote corner of France, loaded with honors and exonerated of all responsibility on the tortuous destiny of those beloved lands whose independence had won with the value of his lightsaber.
Son of John of San Martin, Lieutenant Governor of streams, and Gregoria Matorras, the small José Francisco was raised in a Spanish family that did not hesitate to prefer their country to stay in those turbulent colonial States. In 1784 he went with his family to Spain; in 1787 joined the Madrid seminar of Nobles, where he learned rhetoric, mathematics, geography, natural sciences, French, latin, drawing and music.
Two years later he asked and received the income as a cadet in the regiment of Murcia. This was the origin of a bright and fast military career that would have its baptism of fire on the site of Oran (1791), in the campaign of Melilla; Thirteen had then the future Liberator.

José de San Martín (detail of a portrait of François Joseph Navez, c. 1824)
Later he took part in the wars of Roussillon (1793) and oranges (1801), deserving successive promotions for their performance; in 1803 it was already captain of infantry in the regiment of volunteers from greater field. When the Napoleonic invasion of the peninsula gave place to the war of Spanish independence (1808-1814), his courage against the French invaders at the battle of Bailén (1808) you would be worth being appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of cavalry.
The emancipation of America
After this brilliant career in the Spanish army, and shortly after explode the emancipating revolution in America, San Martín, who had maintained contacts with the masonic lodges which were sympathetic with the independence movement, reoriented his life to emancipating cause. The feeling of his American identity and his liberal ideas, developed in the spiritual climate emerged after the French Revolution and the reading of the encyclopaedists and illustrated French and Spanish, determined it to contribute to the freedom of their homeland.
Thus began a new phase of his life that would make him, along with Simón Bolívar, one of the most outstanding personalities of the war of American emancipation. He called the decline in the Spanish army and went first to London (1811), where he stayed for almost four months. There attended the sessions of the great American meeting, founded by Francisco de Miranda, who was the mother of several organization others scattered across America with identical purposes: independence and American peoples organization.
From England he embarked towards Buenos Aires (1812), where he hoped that his military experience in numerous battles permit him to render excellent services to the ideal that encouraged its country. Because of his twenty-two years of service in the Royalist Army, he was not received with enthusiasm by leaders; but, before the military weakness of the Patriot movement, the Governing Board confirmed in his rank of Lieutenant Colonel of cavalry and mandated the creation of the regiment of grenadiers on horseback, in front of which would get the victory at the battle of San Lorenzo (February 3, 1813).
The same year of his arrival had met at a political gathering that would be his wife and partner, Doña María Remedios de Escalada, who got married right away, on September 19, in the Buenos Aires Cathedral. In 1813 he resigned from the leadership of the army of Buenos Aires, and in 1814 he agreed to replace Manuel Belgrano at the head of the army of the Alto Peru, battered by their defeats. The setback that Belgrano had suffered at Vilcapugio and Ayohuma at the hands of the royalists closed practically possibilities of advance over Peru, at the time making it vulnerable to that border, whose custody is entrusted to Martín Miguel de Güemes, Salta caudillo.
The exploits of the Andes
Uncomfortable before Buenos Aires suspicions, and according to his companions of the Lautaro Lodge, San Martín of José thought that all efforts should be directed towards the liberation of Peru, realistic main bastion in America. Blocked the path of the Alto Peru (today Bolivia), he began to mature your plan of conquest of Peru from Chile; This goal won the governorship of Cuyo, which allowed him to settle in Mendoza (1814) and prepare their offensive from there.
Meanwhile, in Chile, Bernardo O'Higgins and José Miguel Carrera had joined forces to hold the strategic city of Rancagua; the Chilean independence attempt from the period known as the Patria Vieja (1810-1814) it ended with his defeat at the hands of the royalists. The fall of the old homeland and the arrival to Mendoza of Chilean refugees complicated plans of San Martin, expected to attack Peru from a Chile independent and Allied; It was a priority, therefore liberate Chile.

San Martin and O'Higgins at the crossing of the Andes
San Martín decided to rely on O'Higgins, who prepared the invasion plan would be approved by the Governments of Gervasio Antonio de Posadas and Juan Martín de Pueyrredón. In Mendoza, for three years (1814-1817) and with poor resources, San Martín organized patiently the army with the support of the population of the Andes; the company joined also with zeal his wife, Doña Remedios, who gave their jewelry to alleviate some of the hardships of the Patriots. In 1816 this selfless woman gave the general for his only daughter, Mary Janes, who would be the balm of San Martin in his lonely old age.
Finally, in 1817 he began the great campaign that would give a new twist to the war, in the most difficult moment for the American cause, when the insurrection was defeated everywhere with the exception of the Argentina. His goal was to invade Chile across the Andes mountain range, and its realization, in just twenty-four days, would be the largest American military feat ever. Overcome the Andean peaks, the 12 February 1817 defeated the Royalist Army under the command of the general it Marco del Pont in the slope of Chacabuco, and 14 went in Santiago de Chile. The constituted assemblies proclaimed the independence of the country and named him Supreme director, who declined in favour of O'Higgins.
The liberation of Peru
But this great feat of San Martín sought, as already indicated, a much more ambitious goal, and responded to the continental strategy of the Liberator. From this broader perspective, the conquest of Chile was only a necessary step: San Martin understood that to shake the Spanish yoke of the continent, it was necessary to get the naval dominance of the Pacific and the occupation of the Viceroyalty of Peru, true heart of realistic power. The same Peruvian Viceroy Pezuela considered clearly the situation created after the crossing of the Andes and the battle of Chacabuco, pointing out that this campaign "completely upset the State of things, gave comfortable put dissidents to dominate the Pacific and changed the theater of war to dominate the Spanish power on their foundations."
From this moment on, the efforts of San Martin focused on the Organization of the great square that had transported the liberating troops to Peru. He traveled to Buenos Aires in order to request the necessary for the campaign; However, what received was the offer to intervene directly in the internal disputes of the country, which refused.

The embrace of Maipú (detail of a painting by Pedro Subercaseaux)
On his return to Chile, the forces Patriots were defeated in Cancha Rayada by the Royalist Army of Osorio. San Martín reorganized the demoralized native troops and defeated Osorio in the plains of Maipú (April 5, 1818); at the end of this battle, which was assured the Chilean libertad, took place the famous embrace between San Martin and O'Higgins. Even after destroyed the last pockets of Spanish resistance, San Martin had to overcome tremendous obstacles: lack of money, political differences and rivalry and envy of their enemies; but the many months devoted to the Organization of the campaign of Peru would end up giving its fruit.
Finalized preparations, the squadron sailed from Valparaiso (Chile) on 20 August 1820, transporting an army of 4,500 men, and landed on the beach of Paracas (near Pisco, Peru) on 8 September. San Martin tried to negotiate with the viceroy Pezuela, and then his successor, José de la Serna, which met on 2 June 1821: Liberator exhibited there his offer of a peaceful settlement, which included the independence of Peru and the implementation of a monarchical regime with a Spanish King, offering the interim Regency La Serna. Unsuccessful negotiations, San Martín occupied Lima and solemnly proclaimed independence (July 28), while the Royalist Army still controlled much of the colonial territory.

San Martin landed in Paracas (1820)
Named Protector of Peru, while his envoys managed European courts in the establishment of a monarchy, the uncertainty of their military situation contrasted with the consolidation of Simón Bolívar in the Gran Colombia and the total liberation of Quito after the battle of Pichincha. Driven by the Spaniards who had made strong in the mountains, with his army, worn down by the long campaign and with his power undermined by the dissensions among the Patriots, San Martin had to sustain a constant struggle.
The occupation of Guayaquil, city claimed by Peru, was the immediate reason for his famous interview with Simón Bolívar (July 1822), which had dealt with the future of the continent and whose exact content is still object of multiple discussions, but that should certainly discourage San Martin; nothing more to return to Lima, and to the growing Peruvian opposition to its policy, convened the Congress and presented the resignation from his guard position (September 20, 1822), two years before the victory of Ayacucho put an end definitively to Spanish rule in Peru and throughout the continent.
San Martin had decided to withdraw considered fulfilled his duty of freeing peoples and did not want to participate in the internal struggles for power. In October 1822 he arrived in Chile; in the summer of 1823, he crossed the Andes and went to Mendoza hoping to settle there, section of public life. But many adverse criticisms which attributed aspirations of command and the death of his wife determined it in February 1824 from heading for Europe, accompanied by his daughter Mary Janes, which at the time was seven years.
He lived a while in Great Britain and from there moved to Brussels (Belgium), where he lived modestly; their declining income barely reached him to pay the school's Mercedes. Towards 1827 deteriorated his health, resentful by rheumatism, and their economic situation: rents just came you for their support. During those years in Europe dragged also an incurable nostalgia for their homeland.

José de San Martín in a picture of 1848
His last attempt to return took place in 1829. Two years earlier he had offered their services to the Argentine authorities for the war against the Brazilian Empire; on this occasion, he embarked to Buenos Aires with the intention of mediating in the devastating conflict between federalists and centralists. However, arriving found their homeland in such degree of decomposition by struggles fratricidal who withdrew his attempt, and, despite the requirements of some friends, do not put foot in the cherished Argentine Coast.
He returned to Belgium and in 1831 he went to Paris, where he lived next to the Seine, on the estate of Grand-Bourg. Thanks to the application of his prodigal friend don Alejandro Aguado, companion of weapons in Spain, failed to move the last stretch of his life without embarrassing narrowness. In 1848 he settled in his final residence in Boulogne-sur-Mer (France), where he died in 1850.
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
Biographies of historical figures and personalities

Recommended Contents