Vicuña Mackenna, Benjamin (1831–1886)

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Vicuña Mackenna, Benjamin (1831–1886)

Benjamin Vicuña Mackenna (b. 25 August 1831; d. 25 January 1886), Chilean lawyer, politician, and historian. The son of an eccentric intellectual father, Vicuña Mackenna was educated at the University of Chile. He became involved in politics while still a student, achieving the distinction of being jailed by the Manuel Montt administration for participating in the 1851 revolution. Following that abortive struggle, Vicuña Mackenna traveled abroad, then returned to Chile, only to be exiled a second time. Following the 1861 conclusion of Montt's administration, Vicuña Mackenna successfully ran for the legislature, where he served as both a deputy and a senator.

During Chile's ill-fated war against Spain in the mid-1860s, Vicuña Mackenna traveled to the United States, where he attempted to purchase weapons. In the early 1870s, as the provincial governor of Santiago, he instituted various programs to beautify the city. After Federico Errázuriz prevented him from receiving the Liberal Party's 1876 nomination for president, Vicuña Mackenna ran as a candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party, an organization he created. Although he campaigned throughout the country, it became clear that the Liberal political machine had rigged the election in favor of Aníbal Pinto. Consequently, Vicuña Mackenna withdrew his nomination, although he continued to serve in the Senate.

An avowed nationalist, Vicuña Mackenna had many firm opinions, which he never hesitated to share, either in the press or the halls of Congress. In addition to his political career, he proved to be an extremely prolific writer. He wrote for numerous newspapers as well as authored dozens of books, many of them valuable monographs, on a variety of economic and historical topics.

See alsoChile, Political Parties: Liberal Party; Montt Torres, Manuel.


Luis Galdames, A History of Chile (1941), pp. 166, 315, 320, 353-354, 426.

Eugenio Orrego Vicuña, Vicuña Mackenna, vida y trabajos, 3d. ed. (1951).

Additional Bibliography

Gazmuri Riveros, Cristián. Tres hombres tres obras. Santiago de Chile: Editorial Sudamericana: Centro de Investigaciones Diego Barros Arana, 2004.

Gazmuri Riveros, Cristián, Manuel Loyola, and Sergio Grez Toso. Los proyectos nacionales en el pensamiento político y social chileno del siglo XIX. Santiago de Chile: Ediciones UCSH, 2002.

Vicuña Urrutia, Manuel. El París americano: La oligarquía chilena como actor urbano en el siglo XIX Santiago: Universidad Finis Terrae: Museo Histórico Nacional, 1996.

                                       William F. Sater

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Vicuña Mackenna, Benjamin (1831–1886)

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