Salas, Manuel de (1754–1841)

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Salas, Manuel de (1754–1841)

Manuel de Salas (b. 19 June 1754; d. 28 November 1841), Chilean reformer and patriot, and one of the best-loved Chileans of his time. From a rich creole family, Salas studied law at the University of San Marcos, Lima, from which he graduated in 1774. In the later 1770s he paid a long visit to Spain, taking great interest in economic reforms and education. Superintendent of public works under the governorship of Ambrosio O'Higgins, he was named a member of the newly founded consulado (merchant guild) of Santiago in 1795. The following year he wrote a classic report on the economy and society of Chile for the Spanish finance minister. In 1798 he founded the Academia de San Luis, a college which aimed to introduce stronger technical education in Chile. He also played an active part in introducing vaccination into the colony in 1806.

Salas's early hopes for reform rested in the Spanish crown, but from 1810 onward he was a patriot, a member of the first national congress (1811), and, briefly, foreign minister (1812–1813). He was exiled to Juan Fernández (an island prison for exiled political prisoners) during the Spanish reconquest (1814–1817). The first director of Chile's National Library, Salas retained a strong interest in educational matters, often visiting schools and advising them.


Miguel Luis Amunátegui, Don Manuel de Salas, 3 vols. (1895); Escritos de don Manuel de Salas y documentos relativos a él y a su familia, 3 vols. (1910–1914).

Additional Bibliography

Cardoso Ruíz, Patricio. Formación y desarrollo del estado nacional de Chile: De la independencia hasta 1930. Toluca: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, 2000.

Collier, Simon, and William F. Sater. A History of Chile, 1808–1994. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Stuven, Ana María. La seducción de un orden: Las elites y la construcción de Chile en las polémicas culturales y políticas del siglo XIX. Santiago: Ediciones Universidad Católica de Chile, 2000.

                                          Simon Collier