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José Miguel Carrera Verdugo

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

Biographical details

He was born in 1785, the son of Ignacio Carrera and brother of Javiera, Juan José and Luis Carrera.

He became a general in the Chilean revolutionary army. His sister, Javiera, is said to have ridden beside him into battle. He decreed that every monastery should provide a room in which girls should be taught “religion, reading, writing and the duties of a housewife, the state of life for which the fatherland must train them”. The teachers’ salaries to be paid by the municipality. (Chaney, 56)

His decrees were published in Camilo Henríquez's paper, La Aurora de Chile. (Rodríguez)

His wife, Mercedes Fontecilla, was also involved in the Independence movement. (Knaster, 503)

In 1814, after the battle of Rancagua, he fled Chile, crossing the Andes with men, women and children, many of whom travelled on foot: "the hardships and sufferings they had to undergo are not to be described". (Sutcliffe, 110.) He is listed among the exiles in Cuyo. (Guerrero Lira, 297-299)

In July 1814 a junta took power, led by José Miguel Carrera, Urivi and Muñoz Urzúa. Fray Camilo Hernández took refuge in the Convent of the Recolección Dominicana. He was replaced as editor of El Monitor Araucano. (Silva Castro, 37, 78)

He was in Buenos Aires for about a year before going to the United States in November 1815, leaving his wife and baby daughter. He arrived in Maryland on 17 January 1816 and was based in New York, working to restore the Chilean republic. He returned to Buenos Aires in February 1817. In 1819 José Miguel Carrera was in exile in Montevideo. (Vicuña Mackenna, 34-81, 167.)

He returned from the United States in 1817 with some arms. But he found that his brothers were out of favour in Chile and the three were not allowed to join the Chilean independence army . Under suspicion, José Miguel was imprisoned in a brig at Buenos Aires. Luis and Juan José fled for Chile, but were captured and imprisoned in Mendoza in 1817 by Monteagudo. José Miguel managed to escape, and fled to Montevideo. His two brothers were executed on 8 April 1819. José Miguel wrote Five Years’ Residence in Buenes Ayres, by an Englishman. Sutcliffe explains, "the execution of his two brothers, Don Louis and Juan Jose, in Mendoza, and other political affairs, had made him vow eternal enmity to the government of Buenos Ayres; particularly to San Martin, whom he much disliked. In his vengeance, he had raised the Indians to assist him. This act lost him many friends." José Miguel was betrayed, was taken to Mendoza, where he was executed in 1821. He was buried "in the same grave with the brothers he so dearly loved". (Sutcliffe, 317-319.)

He is described in the National Museum, Santiago as ambitious, charismatic and undisciplined. His family "se empapó del modelo napoleónico". Carrera tried to match Republican ideology with the new military power, thus distancing it from a monarchy. At these heights, "acéfala y por ende meramente formal". On 24 March 1828, Manuel Magellanes awarded a Premio Posturno to the three Carrera brothers.

He is described by Lynch as a "stubborn and conspiring enemy of the Chilean liberator (O'Higgins). (Lynch, xv)

Clissard describes him as "the most ungovernable" of four "turbulent" siblings. He broke the law and was sent to Peru and to Spain before the age of 20. He joined the army and fought in the European wars. He returned to Chile in 1811 when his father was a member of the leading junta and José Miguel had ambitions to make the Carrera family the most powerful clan in Chile. (Clissold, 92-93)

Life Events

Born 1785
Other 1811He returned to Chile from Europe.
Other 1814He fought in the battle of Rancagua.
Other 1817He returned from exile in the United States.
Other 1817He was captured in Buenos Aires (and escaped).
Other 1817He fled to Montevideo.
Died 1821He was executed in Mendoza, Argentina on 4 September 1821.
Other 1828He was awarded a Premio Postumo by Manuel Magellanes on 24 March 1828.


Chaney, Elsa M., (1979), Supermadre: Women and Politics in Latin America

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

Sutcliffe, Thomas, (1841), Sixteen Years in Chile and Peru, From 1822 to 1839

Grez, Vicente, (1966), Las mujeres de la independencia

Guerrero Lira, Cristian, (2002), La contrarevolución de la independencia en Chile

Silva Castro, Raul, (1958), Prensa y periodismo en Chile (1812-1956)

Vicuña Mackenna, Benjamin, (1938), Obras completas, Tomo XI, El ostracismo de los Carreras

Iriarte, Tomás, (1863), Biografia del Brigadier General D. José Miguel Carrera (dos veces Primer Magistrado de la República de Chile)

Moreno Martín, Armando, (1992), Archivo del General José Miguel Carrera

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

Rodríguez O., Jaime E., (1998), The Independence of Spanish America

Clissold, Stephen, (1968), Bernardo O'Higgins and the Independence of Chile

Davies, Catherine, Brewster, Claire and Owen, Hilary, (2006), South American Independence. Gender, Politics, Text


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