Santa María González, Domingo (1825–1889)

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Santa María González, Domingo (1825–1889)

Domingo Santa María González (b. 4 August 1825; d. 18 July 1889), president of Chile (1881–1886). The early political activities of this attorney, professor, and civil servant twice forced him into exile. Following his second return to Chile in 1862, he served numerous terms in both houses of the legislature and as a justice of the Supreme Court, a cabinet minister, and a diplomat. Elected president in 1881, he led the nation to triumph over Peru and Bolivia in the War of the Pacific.

Apparently a haughty, if not arrogant, man, Santa María launched his own Kulturkampf, forcing the legislature to remove the cemeteries from the control of the Roman Catholic Church, make marriage a civil contract, and have the state—not the church—keep the civil registry. Violently anticlerical, Santa María supposedly improved the political environment by limiting the power of provincial officials, increasing individual freedoms, and extending suffrage by ceasing to demand that voters possess property. Paradoxically, he shamelessly manipulated the 1882 congressional and 1886 presidential elections.

Ending the War of the Pacific constituted Santa María's greatest achievement. Chile had to withstand pressure from the United States to abandon its demands for territorial concessions and wage a prolonged guerrilla war before forcing Peru to cede to Chile the province of Tarapacá. The following year, in 1884, Bolivia agreed to an armistice.

Santa María concluded his term by pacifying the Araucanian Indians in the south. By 1886, when he left office, Chile had increased its size by approximately a third, controlled the world's supply of nitrates, and dominated the Southern Hemisphere's Pacific coast.

See alsoChile: The Nineteenth Century; Chile, Organizations: Chilean Nitrate Company (COSACH).


Luis Galdames, A History of Chile (1941), pp. 336-340.

William F. Sater, Chile and the War of the Pacific (1986), pp. 60-61, 184-189, 192-195, 206-207, 211-222.

Additional Bibliography

Villalobos R., Sergio. Chile y Perú: La historia que nos une y nos separa, 1535–1883. Santiago de Chile: Editorial Universitaria, 2002.

                                           William F. Sater

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Santa María González, Domingo (1825–1889)

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