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Carrera, José Miguel (1785–1821)

Carrera, José Miguel (1785–1821)

José Miguel Carrera (b. 15 October 1785; d. 4 September 1821), Chilean patriot and revolutionary. Carrera came from an old and distinguished family. A troublesome youth, he was sent in 1806 by his father to Spain, where he fought in at least thirteen actions in the Peninsular War. In July 1811 he returned to Chile and immediately immersed himself in the struggle for independence, using his sway over the military to seize power (15 November 1811). Handsome and personable, Carrera was a popular leader. During his dictatorship Chile's first newspaper, La Aurora de Chile, was published and the first national flag created. However, no declaration of independence was forthcoming.

With the arrival of a royalist expedition from Peru early in 1813, Carrera took command of the patriot forces in the south, leaving the government in the hands of a junta, over which his adversaries later assumed control. Given his limited military success, the junta transferred command to Bernardo O'Higgins (1778–1842), thereby opening up a serious rift between the two men. Soon afterward Carrera was captured by the royalists, but he escaped and returned to Santiago, where he staged a second coup d'état 23 July 1814. Civil war between the followers of O'Higgins and Carrera was averted only by the arrival of a new and powerful royalist expedition under the command of General Mariano Osorio (1777–1819). Carrera's failure to send relief to O'Higgins's valiant defense against Osorio at Rancagua (1-2 October 1814), resulted in a complete royalist triumph and the collapse of patriot Chile.

Carrera and two thousand others fled across the Andes to Mendoza, where the governor of Cuyo, José de San Martín, preferring the more reliable support of O'Higgins, ordered Carrera on to Buenos Aires. In November 1815 Carrera traveled to the United States, procured two warships, and then returned to Buenos Aires. Denied a part in the liberation of Chile now underway, he moved to Montevideo and launched a propaganda war against the new O'Higgins government.

Temperamentally incapable of remaining inactive for long, he next involved himself in the fighting then raging in the Argentine interior, lending support to various provincial caudillos. He was finally captured and executed at Mendoza, where his brothers Juan José (1782–1818) and Luis (1792–1818) had been shot three years earlier. These executions roused resentment against the O'Higgins regime in Chile. The remains of the three Carreras were repatriated in 1828. Following in his father's footsteps, Carrera's son, José Miguel Carrera Fontecilla (1820–1860), fought in the Chilean rebellions of 1851 and 1859.

See alsoO'Higgins, Bernardo .


Julio Alemparte Robles, Carrera y Freire, fundadores de la Repú blica (1963).

Simon Collier, Ideas and Politics of Chilean Independence (1967), chap. 3.

Additional Bibliography

Barros Franco, José Miguel. "El archivo del General José Miguel Carrera y don Armando Moreno Martín." Revista Chilena de Historia y Geografía. 165 (1999–2000): 353-357.

Gutiérrez, Manuel Reyno. Carrera: Su vida, sus sicisitudes, su época. Santiago: Edit. Andujar, 2003.

                                      Simon Collier

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