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José de San Martín

San Martín, José de (hōsāˈ ħā sän märtēnˈ) [key], 1778–1850, South American revolutionist, b. Yapeyú, in present-day Argentina. After service with the Spanish army in Europe, he returned (1812) to join the revolution against Spain in his native country. He superseded Manuel Belgrano in command of the army against royalist forces in Upper Peru and decided, after some experience, that the attack on the royalist stronghold could best be made through Chile. After training his troops at Mendoza, San Martín accomplished the difficult feat of leading an army across the Andes through Los Patos and Uspallata passes. Ably seconded by Bernardo O'Higgins, he defeated (1817) the Spanish at Chacabuco. San Martín was offered the governorship of Chile, which he refused. After a setback at Cancha Rayada, the patriots defeated (1818) the royalists at Maipú and completed the liberation of Chile. San Martín, with the aid of Thomas Cochrane (earl of Dundonald), prepared to conquer Peru. Lima was taken (1821), and San Martín became protector of Peru. When Simón Bolívar advanced with the intention of driving out the Spanish, San Martín interviewed (July, 1822) him at Guayaquil and then resigned, leaving the conquest of Peru to Bolívar. San Martín retired from public life and in 1824 went to Europe, where he spent his remaining years in exile and comparative poverty.

See B. Mitre, The Emancipation of South America (tr. 1893, repr. 1969); J. C. Metford, San Martín the Liberator (1950, repr. 1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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