San Martín, José Francisco de

(1778–1850)
   The general who led armies of liberation in Argentina, Chile, and Peru during the concluding phases of the Wars of Independence in Spanish America. San Martín was born in Corrientes to Spanish parents who supervised his education in Spain. He entered the Spanish military and served in three campaigns between 1789 and 1793 and was active in secret societies that supported liberal reforms and the independence of the American colonies during and after his resignation from the Spanish military in 1811.
   While in London, through his membership in the Great American Assembly of Francisco Miranda, he met a number of Latin American independence leaders, including Manuel Moreno - the brother of Mariano Moreno - and Carlos de Alvear. In 1812, San Martín traveled to Buenos Aires, where he offered his services to the newly formed government of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. He became active in politics in Buenos Aires. In 1813, after winning victories against Loyalist forces on two occasions, the ruling junta named him as the commander of the expeditionary force then engaged in fighting Spanish forces on the frontier between Argentina and Bolivia. Hoping that an indirect attack would yield better results, San Martín pushed for the recruitment and training of an army between 1814 and 1817 that crossed the Andes and invaded Chile. A series of engagements in alliance with Chilean independence forces against the Spanish defenders led to the liberation of Chile by 1818.
   With support from the governments in Buenos Aires and in Santiago de Chile, he led an invasion force against the Spanish in Peru beginning in 1820. Although the Royalist forces were significantly larger than the invading forces, the ensuing campaign produced a string of victories that quickly forced Spanish and loyalist troops from Peru. On July 28, 1821, a council in Lima declared their country independent.
   San Martín had hoped to unite Argentina, Chile, and Peru - if not all of South America - into a single nation. Although his exact plans remain unknown, contemporaries believed that he hoped to help create a constitutional monarchy and a federation of states.
   As the battle to liberate Ecuador and Bolivia continued, San Martín met with Simón de Bolívar on July 25, 1822, in Guayaquil. No record of their discussion appeared and what their discussion covered remains unknown. After a series of meetings, San Martín returned to Lima, where he resigned his commission and titles granted by the Peruvian government. He returned to Argentina, but he retired from politics and military affairs. After meeting briefly with government officials, he departed for England in 1824. Although he resided briefly in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1828, and he offered to help the dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas lift an attempted French blockade of Buenos Aires in 1838, he remained for the rest of his life in Europe.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Lynch, John. Spanish American Revolutions 1808–1826 . New York: W. W. Norton, 1986;
    Mitre, Bartolomé. The Emancipation of South America . Being a condensed translation by William Pilling of the History of San Martin by Bartolomé Mitre . New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1969.
   DANIEL K. LEWIS

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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