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José Francisco de San Martín

Other names/titles:
Gender: M
Ethnic origin: White

Biographical details

He was born in Yapeyú, Corrientes, 25 February 1778. His family moved to Spain when he was still a child, where he began a military career. He served in Portugal in the campaign against France where he distinguished himself in the battles of Arjonilla and Bailén. He met a group of Americans in Cadiz who sought Independence and at the end of 1811 he resigned his military commission and left for Buenos Aires. There he organised the regiment Granaderos a Caballo who fought royalists in 1813 in San Lorenzo. San Martín was nearly killed in this battle. He was named Jefe of the Ejército del Norte and planned to liberate Chile and use the Pacific Ocean to reach Peru, the base of royalist power. He was made governor of Cuyo, and organised the Ejército de los Andes with which he crossed the mountains and won the battle at Chacabuco in 1817. He occupied Santiago where he rejected the post of Director Supremo de Chile in the interests of pursuing American liberty. In 1818 he defeated the royalists at Maipú and consolidated the liberation of Chile. The Buenos Aires government asked him to take part in the civil wars in Argentina, but he disobeyed and sailed for the Peruvian coast in 1820. After almost a year of waiting, he occupied Lima without a battle and on 28 July proclaimed the independence of Peru with him as Protector. He abolished personal tribute of the Indians, founded the Biblioteca Nacional and the Escuela Normal. His infamous meeting with Bolívar took place in Guayaquil in July 1822. He returned to Lima where he resigned as Protector when independence was secure. He retired to civilian life, returning to Buenos Aires and then went into voluntary exile in Europe. He returned in 1829, but did not want to disembark and become embroiled in the civil wars that were disintegrating his country. He returned to Europe and settled in Boulogne-Sur-Mer (France). His main preoccupation in his retirement from public life were the French and English interventions in Rio de la Plata. Old and ill, he was intensely involved in these struggles. He died on 17 August 1850 in Boulogne. (Enciclopedia Billiken)

He founded the Biblioteca Nacional del Perú in 1821 and donated his books as “one of the most effective methods of putting intellectual values into circulation”.

On 31 December 1821 he signed a declaration stating that theatre was a moral and political establishment of the highest value. (Seibel, 24)

In 1825 he wrote a moral guide for his daughter, Mercedes Tomasina, in which he advises her to love truth and hate lies, to be charitable towards the poor, respect other people's property, keep secrets, be kind to servants, the poor and the elderly. (Knaster, 241.)

Mary Graham met him in 1822. "San Martin has vulgarly been said to drink: I believe this is not true; but he is an opium eater, and his starts of passion are so frequent and violent, that no man feels his head safe…" (Mavor, 95) Although politically opposed to him through her friendship with Lord Cochrane, she could not help admiring him. (Mavor, 123-129)

He intended to transform Peru into a liberal, free trade society. He abolished Indian tribute, which had been re-established in 1826 and represented 30% of public income. (Betalleluz, 148)

On 1 July 1821 he made a speech to Limeñas. (See texts below) Gaceta de Caracas 3/1/1821, p.33.

He attended Petronila Arias de Saavedra's and Ravago's tertulias in Lima. (García y García, 275, 288, 325)

He met Remedios de Escalada at her parents´ tertulia and married her shortly afterwards on 12 November 1812. (Sosa de Newton, 211, 519)

Basadre gives his year of birth as 1777. (Basadre, 193-197.)

Life Events

Born 1778He was born in 1777 or on 25 February 1778, Yapeyú, Corrientes, Argentina.
Other 1812He returned to Buenos Aires after serving in the Spanish army.
Married 1812He married Remedios de Escalada on 12 November 1812.
Other 1818He defeated the royalists at Maipú and consolidated the liberation of Chile.
Other 1821He founded the Biblioteca Nacional del Perú in 1821.
Other 1821He occupied Lima and established the Biblioteca Nacional del Perú.
Other 1822He met Bolívar in Guayaquil in July 1822.
Other 1825He wrote a moral guide for his daughter, Mercedes Tomasina.
Died 1850He died on 17 August 1850 in Boulogne-Sur-Mer.


Basadre, Jorge, (1981), Peruanos del siglo XIX

Seibel, Beatriz, (1989), "Mujer, teatro y sociedad en Argentina, epoca de la colonia"

Knaster, Meri, (1977), Women in Spanish America: An Annotated Bibliography from Pre-Conquest to Contemporary Times

Mavor, Elizabeth, (1993), The Captain's Wife. The South American Journals of Maria Graham, 1821-23

Urbano, Enrique, (1992), Tradición y modernidad en los Andes

Lynch, John, (1986), The Spanish American Revolutions 1808-1826

García y García, Elvira, (1924), La mujer peruana a través de los siglos

Sosa de Newton, Lily, (1986), Diccionario biográfico de mujeres argentinas

www., (), Enciclopedia Billiken Super Cole Click, San Martín, Los Documentos del Cruce. www

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Speech: Proclama a las Limeñas

Other: Discurso


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