José Miguel Carrera

José Miguel Carrera
Pintura José Miguel Carrera.jpg
President of the First Chilean Governing Council
In office
November 16, 1811 – October 2, 1814
Personal details
Born(1785-10-15)October 15, 1785
Santiago, Chile
DiedSeptember 4, 1821(1821-09-04) (aged 35)
Mendoza, Argentina
Spouse(s)Mercedes Fontecilla

José Miguel Carrera Verdugo (American Spanish: [xoˈse miˈɣel kaˈreɾa]; October 15, 1785 – September 4, 1821)[1] was a Chilean general, member of the prominent Carrera family, and considered one of the founders of independent Chile. Carrera was the most important leader of the Chilean War of Independence during the period of the Patria Vieja ("Old Republic"). After the Spanish Reconquista ("Reconquest"), he continued campaigning from exile. His opposition to the leaders of independent Argentina and Chile San Martin and O'Higgins respectively made him to live in exile in Montevideo. From Montevideo Carrera traveled to Argentina where he joined the struggle against the unitarians. Carreras' small army was eventually left isolated in the Province of Buenos Aires from the other federalist forces. In this difficult situation Carrera decided to cross to native-controlled lands all the way to Chile to once for all overthrow Chilean Supreme Director O'Higgins. His passage to Chile, which was his ultimate goal, was opposed by Argentine politicians and he engaged together with indigenous tribes, among the Ranquels, in a campaign against the southern provinces of Argentina. After the downfall of Carreras' ally, the Republic of Entre Ríos, and several victories against the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata Carrera's men were finally defeated by numerically superior forces near Mendoza. Carrera was then betrayed by one of his Argentine helpers, leading to his capture and execution in that city. José Miguel Carrera was of Basque descent.[2]

Early years

José Miguel Carrera was of Basque descent.[2] He was born in Santiago, the second son (third child, after his sister Javiera and his brother Juan José) of Ignacio de la Carrera y Cuevas and Francisca de Paula Verdugo Fernández de Valdivieso y Herrera. Carrera carried out his first studies in the Convictorio Carolino, the best school in the country at the time. During these years, he became friends with Manuel Rodríguez, classmate and neighbour, future guerrilla leader of the Chilean independence movement.

After school he was sent to Spain by his parents. There he joined the Spanish Army in 1808. He fought well against the Napoleonic forces, obtaining the rank of Sergeant Major and receiving the command of the Húsares de Galicia regiment.

In Spain he also made contact with the United States independence movement and joined the Cádiz Order.