San Martín, José de

San Martín, José de

(hōsā` thā sän märtēn`), 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 He superseded Manuel BelgranoBelgrano, Manuel
, 1770–1820, Argentine revolutionist. Important as a political figure, he was appointed secretary of the commercial tribunal of Buenos Aires in 1794. He vigorously championed popular education and proposed economic reforms.
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 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'HigginsO'Higgins, Bernardo
, 1778–1842, South American revolutionary and ruler (1817–23) of Chile; illegitimate son of Ambrosio O'Higgins. He was chosen in 1813 to replace José Miguel Carrera as revolutionary leader.
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, 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 DundonaldDundonald, Thomas Cochrane, 10th earl of
, 1775–1860, British naval commander. He served in the Napoleonic Wars, executing his assignments with a boldness and originality sometimes too radical for the admiralty.
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), prepared to conquer Peru. Lima was taken (1821), and San Martín became protector of Peru. When Simón BolívarBolívar, Simón
, 1783–1830, South American revolutionary who led independence wars in the present nations of Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
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 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).

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San Martín, José de


Born Feb. 25, 1778, in Yapeyú, Corrientes Province; died Aug. 17, 1850, in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. A leader of the War of Independence of the Spanish-American Colonies of 1810–26. National hero of Argentina. General.

The son of a captain in the Spanish army, San Martin was educated in a military school in Madrid. From 1808 to 1812 he fought against France in the Spanish war of national liberation. In 1812 he returned to his native land. In 1814 he was appointed commander of the Army of the North, the army of the Argentine patriots fighting against the Spanish colonial authorities. In 1816, after the United Provinces of La Plata (from 1826, known as Argentina) were proclaimed independent, he became commander in chief of the Army of the Andes and led it over the difficult crossing of the Andes into Chile. In the Battle of Cha-cabuco in February 1817 and in the Battle of Maipù in April 1818, he defeated the Spanish troops, thereby winning independence for Chile. In 1820 and 1821 he marched into Peru, drove out the Spanish, and proclaimed Peru’s independence. As protector, he headed the first government of Peru, putting through a number of reforms that strengthened the country’s economic and military positions. After a meeting in Guayaquil in July 1822 with Simón Bolívar, in which Bolívar rejected San Martin’s proposal for joint action by their two armies, San Martin retired from military and political life and left for France.


Ocherki istorii Argentiny. Moscow, 1961. Pages 99–114.
Mitre, B. Historia de San Martín. Buenos Aires, 1950.
Florit, E. San Martín y la causa de América. Buenos Aires, 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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