Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
CHILI. This country, under Spanish rule, formed, with the vice-royalties of Granada, Peru, and La Plata, a captaincy general under the authority of an officer having the rank of lieutenant general, president, governor, and captain general of the kingdom of Chili.
—The unhappy events which convulsed Spain during the second half of the reign of the first Napoleon, had already reacted on the American continent when the new spirit crossed the Andes and disturbed Chili. The republic of Chili began its revolution under sad auspices. The first struggle for emancipation was in 1810. On the 18th of September of that year, she declared her independence. Dissatisfaction provoked by electoral questions afforded the three Carrera brothers, young and ambitious debauchees, a pretext for taking an active part in the movement. On the 11th of December, 1811, they dispersed the congress, seized the reins of government, were driven from power, returned to it, and as a result of their rule Chili was almost reduced by the arms of Spain.
—The cause of independence seemed lost when help from an unexpected quarter was obtained, giving it new life and finally insuring its triumph. General San Martin, the real founder of the Chilian republic, hurried from Buenos Ayres with 3,000 men, crossed into Chili in 1817, and restored courage and confidence to all. He reorganized the national army, and defeated the royalists at Chacabuco; was defeated in turn at Canchaarayada, a disaster he soon repaired by the famous battle of Maypo, which he won April 5, 1818. It decided the success of the revolution and assured Chilian independence.
—The new state had to defend itself against the dangers which threatened it from within. It happily surmounted them. In 1821 San Martin had gone northward from Chili to free Peru, of which he had been proclaimed protector, from the Spanish yoke. Generals O'Higgins and Freyre had succeeded him in turn as president. To them succeeded general Pinto, whose elevated mind and travels in Europe had given him a higher reputation in the country. He governed with an ability that assured Chili some years of tranquillity. The country showed its appreciation by re-electing him, but an irregularity in the election furnished the malcontents a pretext for agitation. He allowed himself to be influenced by the counsels of the extreme liberals, and gave to Chili an ultra-democratic constitution. This imprudent course excited violent opposition. The reactionary party, that is what is there called the "moderate" party, had, at its head general Prieto, and among its members the unfortunate Portales. A civil war excited against them, ended in their victory and in the abolition of the constitution.
—In 1838 Chili finally adopted its present constitution, "one of the wisest in America," says a traveler, "which gives to the government the legal means of enforcing obedience to its commands, and to the country satisfactory guarantees of liberty." The president is elected for 5 years. Besides the ministry which governs with him, he is assisted by a council of state composed of the ministers, 2 judges, an ecclesiastical dignitary, 2 generals, and a like number of ex-ministers. The legislative power is vested in a senate of 20 members, elected for 9 years, and a triennial house of representatives, consisting of one member for every 20,000 inhabitants. Under the firm rule of general Prieto and of Portales peace was firmly established; habits of order and political wisdom prevailed in the country. Chili began a career of progress which has since been only occasionally interrupted and then for but short periods. The question has been asked, "How did Chili come to have this exceptional history, and what favorable circumstances gave it a destiny so different from that of the other democracies of South America?" Several causes have been assigned for this: First the non-interference of the resident Spanish population, of whom very few took part in the revolutionary struggles, thus guaranteeing their own security and not adding a third party to the two already opposed to each other; the purity of the Creole race, which has very little admixture of Indian blood and preserved its vigor and moral preponderance; the destructive character of that active and serious race who are fond of comparing themselves to the English, and whom a traveler has likened to the Dutch; the depth of Chilian national sentiment, their taste for commerce, and the isolation of the country, which, defended on the east by the chain of the Andes and on the west by the sea, is protected both from the ambition of its neighbors and from its own; and lastly, by the geographical features of the country which does not admit of long wars, and in which every quarrel must be quickly decided.
—After the republic had passed through its period of crises and had nothing to do but to devote itself to the development of its institutions, an unfortunate incident, brought about by the ambition of general Santa Cruz, president of Bolivia, checked its progress for a time. Santa Cruz had united Bolivia and Peru into a confederation of which he was the head. He wished to include Chili, and to further his plan, began by exciting civil war in the country over which he desired to extend his rule. The attempt at insurrection was soon crushed, but Portales was its first victim. Order was reestablished but Chili had lost one of its most distinguished men, the one on whom it based the most legitimate hopes, and who had already done so much for the reformation of its laws and the perfecting of its organization. At the beginning of 1859, however, new storms arose. A party of liberal opposition had been formed. It demanded constitutional reforms and allied itself with its most decided opponents, the reactionary and clerical parties. Although this coalition of extreme parties inspired no confidence in the country, and although, moreover, it was wanting in leaders, it was none the less dangerous. It brought on an armed insurrection. The president took energetic measures. Extraordinary powers were voted him by congress. He usurped the dictatorship which he had the courage and the honor not to abuse. The insurrection was suppressed on the 29th of April at Pemelas, and peace assured.
—The Chilians dreaded the approach of 1861. During the course of the year every branch of the government of the state was to be re-elected. They had to meet at the polls several times during the year; on the 28th of February, to elect members of the house; on the 15th of May, to vote for senators; on the 25th of June, to choose presidential electors, and on the 31st of September the president himself. But all these elections passed off in an orderly and lawful manner.
—While these contests, attended with much excitement but no bloodshed, were going on in the interior, Chili did not neglect its foreign relations. In 1859 a treaty concerning the payment of a certain indemnity which Chili acknowledged that it owed the United States, was signed with that power. At the same time it signed a treaty of navigation and commerce with Belgium, while a similar treaty with Austria was in course of preparation. On the 11th of April it concluded an extradition treaty with France.
—But the good understanding between Chili and the European powers did not last long. In 1864 it espoused the cause of Peru against Spain.
—In the article BOLIVIA the reader will find an account of the manner in which the war between Peru and Spain broke out, and how the republic of Ecuador, Bolivia and Chili came to sign a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, with Peru. This alliance was preceded in Chili by active hostilities with Spain, which was irritated at the indirect assistance given to Peru by Chili. Admiral Paréja, commanding the Spanish squadron, declared the coast of Chili blockaded in September, 1865. The Chilian government declared war against Spain and entered into the Peruvian alliance in December.
—The bombardment of Valparaiso has made this war celebrated in Europe. The Chilian squadron had had some success in its engagements with the Spanish vessels, and the United States offered its mediation, which Chili refused. The Spanish admiral Mendez-Nunez gave the Chilian government four days to accept the proposition of the United States, failing which, he threatened to open fire on Valparaiso, an unfortified place, its only battery having been recently dismantled. It was the great entrepôt of all foreign commerce. In vain did the ministers of England, France and the United States represent to the Chilian president the folly of resistance. He was controlled by the press and by public opinion. Both had become excited to such a degree that they would not listen to reason. He was imprudent enough to defy the threat of the Spanish commander, who had the inhumanity to carry it out. March 31, 1866, the bombardment set fire to the custom house buildings which contained $30,000,000 worth of goods. French merchants lost $3,400,000, the English and American $500,000 each, the Chilians $400,000. A portion of the city, valued at $15,000,000, was reduced to ashes.
—The news of the bombardment caused in Europe an indignation that found vent in the English parliament and in the French corps législatif. But the French and English governments considered the act justified by the necessities of war, and not contrary to the law of nations, so Spain was not asked to make good the loss. Besides, the war with Chili had virtually terminated with the retreat of the Spanish squadron, which had laid siege to Callao unsuccessfully. (See
—The territory of Chili consists of a narrow strip of land running from north to south along the Pacific coast, between 25° and 44° south latitude; and its area is 132,606 English square miles. It possesses, at some distance from its southern coast, the archipelago of Chiloë, and it claims authority over a much vaster extent of territory which belongs to Patagonia, and which, added to Chili, would double its area. But its authority over the territory situated between 37° and 42° south latitude. beyond the river Biobio, seems to be nominal. The inhabitants of this region, the Araucanian Indians, are independent in the strict sense of the word. Chili is bounded on the north by the desert of Atacama, belonging to Bolivia; on the east by the Argentine republic and Patagonia, separated from them by the chain of the Andes; on the south also by Patagonia; and on the west by the Pacific ocean. Its rivers, the Rio Maypo, the Maule and the Rio Biobio, are of little importance. The climate, as a general thing, is mild and healthy; but this advantage is offset in a terrible manner by the earthquakes to which Chili is subject, perhaps more than any other country, especially on the coast. The country is divided into 16 provinces. The provinces are, Atacama, Angel, Aranco, Coquimbo, Aconcagua, Santiago, Colchagua, Valparaiso, Talca, Maule, Nuble, Concepcion, Valdivia, Chiloë, Llanquihue, Linares, Curico. Santiago is the capital of the whole republic, with a population of 129,807 (1875). Valparaiso, the commercial and business centre, is the most important city. Its population in 1875, was 97,775.
—The population of Chili, estimated at 240,000 in 1764, and placed at 600,000 in 1825 by an English traveler, reached 1,080,000 in 1843. In 1857 it was 1,465,492; in 1868, 1,908,340; and in 1875, 2,283,568. We here speak almost exclusively of the population north of the Biobio, where there is very little admixture of negroes and Indians. South of that river there are hardly any other inhabitants than members of the Araucanian tribe. Their number in 1790 was estimated to be 70,000.
—Education is with the Chilian government an object of great and legitimate solicitude. Santiago has a university which has founded five colleges; among them the national institute, and the institute of Coquimbo. Santiago has also private educational institutions. More than two thousand young men attended the state colleges in 1860. The private colleges are 50 in number, 26 for boys and 24 for girls. The former was attended by about 6,000 scholars, the latter by about 2,000 pupils. There were 477 primary schools; 329 for boys, 23 for adults, and 125 for girls; 2,000 pupils of both sexes attended them, while the 84 municipal schools had 4,500 pupils. In 1867 there were 993 primary schools, with 50,877 pupils.
—The Chilian government seems to neglect no opportunity to develop the elements of prosperity in the country. Important reforms have been introduced in the civil and criminal codes, also in the administration of justice, for which tribunals of first resort, three courts of appeal and one supreme court, are provided. Railways are being built, and in 1860 80 kilomètres of railway were already in operation and had carried nearly 300,000 passengers. In 1871 the total length of railway lines was about 761 kilomètres. There are telegraph lines from Valparaiso to Santiago, and from the latter place to Talca, over 750 kilomètres in length. 2,650 miles of telegraph were in operation in 1878. The use of the decimal system, decreed in 1848, for measures of length and volume, was to be enforced during the course of the year 1860. The military spirit is not very prevalent in Chili, and has not had the pernicious influence there that it exerted in the other South American republics. The regular army, consisting of a few battalions of infantry and some squadrons of cavalry, does not reach the number of 5,200 men. The national guard, however, is well organized. It numbers 50,000 men. The navy consists of 6 steamers, with 40 guns and 400 men.
—From 1825 until 1832 the average revenue of the republic did not exceed $1,700,000 per annum, and the expenditure was in excess of the receipts. In 1851 the expenses amounted to more than $4,700,000, while the receipts in 1852 were only about $4,430,000. The budget of 1853 nearly restored the balance of the two parts which composed it. The receipts appeared in it as 6,419,000 piasters, and the expenditures as 6,336,000 piasters. In 1871 the receipts were 11,550,000 piasters, and the expenditures 12,542,000 piasters. The principal source of revenue was the customs duties, which amounted to more than 4,000,000 piasters. In 1878 the revenue of Chili amounted to 20,443,977 pesos, and its expenditure to 21,375,728. At the end of the same year the total debt, internal and foreign, was 63,397,022 pesos.
—In 1879, on the outbreak of war with Peru and Bolivia, Chili had 22,000 men under arms. The navy consisted of 10 steamers, of 120 to 300 horse power, and 2 ironclads.
—Metals form an important part of the mineral wealth of Peru. Spangles of gold are found at the bottom of some of its rivers. It contains silver mines, and especially copper mines. In 1856 the yield of fine gold and silver amounted to 529,000 piasters, in 1857 to about 1,100,000 piasters, and in 1858 to 1,000,000 piasters. But Chili is, above all, an agricultural country. Besides the precious metals it exports grain and lumber. The most fruitful source of its industrial wealth is the vast extent of its pasture lands, in the midst of which may sometimes be seen a herd of 10 or 20,000 head of stock belonging to one man. In 1856 the imports amounted to 99,000,000 francs, and the exports to 90,800,000 francs, or 189,800,000 altogether. The principal countries which fed this commerce figured in the following order: Imports—England, 34,500,000 francs; France, 21,300,000; the United States, 12,100,000; Germany, 9,600,000. Exports—England, 41,500,000 francs; the United States, 15,500,000; Peru, 11,900,000; France, 7,000,000. The whole foreign commerce of Chili in 1869 amounted to 291,235,000 francs, of which, 144,319,000 were for imports and 146,916,000 for exports. Adding the coasting trade the grand total foots up 524,806,000 francs. During the year 1856 2,602 vessels, Chilian or foreign, entered Chilian ports, and 2,568 cleared for other ports: total, 5,170. England ranks first, with 1,156 ships; the United States follow, with 475; France only holds the fifth rank, with 122. In 1867 arrivals and departures were as follows: arrivals, 3,553 vessels, registering 1,723,617 tons; departures, 3,334 vessels representing 1,680,868; total, 6,877 vessels, and 3,374,485 tons. England retained her first rank, with 1,073 vessels; the United States came next, with 665; France had fallen back to the sixth rank, with 148 ships. The intermediate ranks were held by the Hanseatic cities, San Salvador and Italy.
—BIBLIOGRAPHY. The Progress and Actual Condition of Chile, by G. Rose Innes, London, 1875; Historia General de el Reyno de Chile, by R. P. Diego de Rosales, Valparaiso, 1877-8.
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