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Sun, 09.18.1808

Chile Declares Independence From Spain

*On this date in 1808, Chile declared its Independence from Spain. This declaration eventually led to over a decade of violence and war, which did not end until the last royalist stronghold fell in 1826.

At the start of 1808, the Captaincy General of Chile – one of the smallest and poorest colonies in the Spanish Empire – was under the administration of Luis Muñoz de Guzmán as Royal Governor. In May 1808, the overthrow of Charles IV and Ferdinand VII, their replacement by Joseph Bonaparte, and the start of the Peninsular War plunged the empire into a state of agitation. In the meantime, Chile was facing internal political problems. Governor Guzmán suddenly died in February of that year, and the crown could not appoint a new governor before the invasion.

After an interim regency by Juan Rodríguez Ballesteros, and according to the succession law at the time, the most senior military commander was laid claim to and assumed by the most senior military commander, who happened to be Brigadier Francisco García Carrasco. The Chilean War of Independence was a military and political event that allowed the emancipation of Chile from the Spanish Monarchy, ending the colonial period and initiating the formation of an independent republic. It developed in the context of the Spanish American Wars of Independence. This military and political process that began after the formation of self-government juntas in the Spanish-American colonies in response to the capture of King Ferdinand VII of Spain by Napoleonic forces in 1808.

The First Government Junta of Chile was formed for that purpose. But then, it began to gradually radicalize, which caused a military struggle between the Patriots, who sought a definitive separation from the Spanish Crown, and Royalists, who sought to maintain unity with her. Chilean history covers this period between the establishment of the First Government Junta of Chile in 1810 and the resignation of Bernardo O'Higgins as Supreme Director of Chile (1823). It is subdivided into three stages: the Patria Vieja, Reconquista, and the Patria Nueva. Although the war began in 1812, the year in which the first hostile actions took place, and lasted until 1826 when the last royalist forces were defeated in the Chiloé Archipelago.

Chile officially declared independence on February 12, 1818, and was formally recognized by Spain in 1844, when full diplomatic relations were established. September 18 is celebrated in Chile as Independence Day.

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