Bilbao Barquín, Francisco (1823–1865)

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Bilbao Barquín, Francisco (1823–1865)

Francisco Bilbao Barquín (b. 9 January 1823; d. 19 February 1865), Chilean radical. Born in Santiago and educated at the Instituto Nacional, Bilbao quickly revealed radical tendencies. His controversial article "La sociabilidad chi-lena" (The Nature of Chilean Society), published in the journal El Crepúsculo (June 1844), was immediately condemned by the authorities as blasphemous and immoral, though not subversive. In October 1844 Bilbao left for Europe, staying in Paris and making the acquaintance of the French thinkers Hugh-Félicité-Robert Lamennais (1782–1854), Jules Michelet (1798–1874), and Edgar Quinet (1803–1875). From autumn 1847 to summer 1848 he traveled in Germany, Austria, and Italy: he was in Paris in time to witness revolutionary activity there.

In February 1850 Bilbao returned to Chile where, with Santiago Arcos and others, he formed the Sociedad de la Igualdad (Society of Equality) in April 1850. The society's leaders took nicknames from figures of the French Revolution: Bilbao's was Vergniaud, a testimony to his considerable talent for oratory. He went into hiding when the society was suppressed in November 1850. He fought in the Santiago insurrection of 20 April 1851 and later went into hiding and then into exile in Peru; he never returned to Chile. In 1855 he moved to Europe and in 1857 he made his final move to Argentina.

Bilbao's writings, liberal and democratic in content, are high-flown and often very lyrical. His works La América en peligro (America in Danger, 1862) and El evangelio americano (The American Gospel, 1864) highlight the contrast between the free and prosperous United States and the "disunited states" of Spanish America.

See alsoChile, Organizations: Society of Equality .


Alberto J. Varona, Francisco Bilbao, revolucionario de América (1973).

Solomon Lipp, Three Chilean Thinkers (1975), chap. 1.

                                        Simon Collier