Freire Serrano, Ramón (1787–1851)

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Freire Serrano, Ramón (1787–1851)

Ramón Freire Serrano (b. 29 November 1787; d. 9 September 1851), Chilean patriot, supreme director of Chile (1823–1826, 1827). Freire enlisted in the patriot army in 1811 and fought with great valor in many actions of the Chilean Wars of Independence. (During the restored colonial regime of 1814–1817 he served in Admiral William Brown's corsair squadron.) In 1819 he was named intendant of Concepción. The desperate conditions in that war-ravaged southern province turned Freire against the Bernardo O'Higgins government. His pronunciamiento was the main cause of O'Higgins's downfall (January 1823). Freire was the inevitable successor. During his supreme directorship, he expelled the Spanish troops still holding out on the island of Chiloé (January 1826). In domestic affairs, Freire's liberalism allowed politicians a free rein; their failure to organize stable institutions made this a frustrating period. Freire soon had enough. In July 1826 he resigned, returning to power briefly in 1827 to restore order after a military mutiny.

Early in 1830 Freire once again took up arms, to oppose the Conservative seizure of power then well under way. His small army was defeated at the battle of Lircay (April 1830), after which he was arrested and exiled to Peru. From there, in mid-1836, he led an expedition to Chile in the vain hope of overthrowing the Conservatives. He was captured, put on trial, and exiled to Australia. (Diego Portales wished to have him shot, but did not get his way.) By the end of 1837 Freire was living in Tahiti (where he is said to have befriended Queen Pomaré). In 1839 he settled in the Bolivian port of Cobija. The amnesty of 1841 enabled the general to return at last to his native land: The remaining years formed a quiet coda to an adventurous life.

See alsoChile: The Nineteenth Century; O'Higgins, Bernardo.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Julio Alemparte, Carrera y Freire, fundadores de la república (1963).

Additional Bibliography

Ibáñez Vergara, Jorge. O'Higgins, el Libertador. Santiago, Chile: Instituto O'Higginiano de Chile, 2001.

                                                  Simon Collier

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