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This webpage reproduces part of
History of Chile

Luis Galdames

translated and edited by Isaac Joslin Cox
Russell & Russell
New York 1964

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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please let me know!


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Chapter 1

(p. vii) Preface by the General Editor

Note: This preface is as Dr. Robertson wrote it, before his death on March 20, 1939.

The present volume is the fourth in the Inter-American Historical Series. Preceding it were the translations made and edited by Professor William Spence Robertson of Ricardo Levene's Lecciones de historia argentina; by Professor J. Fred Rippy, of J. M. Henao and G. Arrubla's Historia de Colombia; and by Professor Percy Alvin Martin, of João Pandiá Calogeras' A formação historica do Brasil. These volumes have related the history of Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil as written by nationals of the three countries respectively. In this fourth volume Professor Isaac Joslin Cox gives to English-speaking people the history of Chile as narrated by a Chilean.

Señor Luis Galdames, leaning on the older histories of Barros Arana, but with many supplementary interpretations of his own, has written a narrative that comes well within the designs of this series. He has produced an interesting volume, as is attested by the eight editions of it that have already appeared in Chile.

Not only does this volume in the original represent a sane and solid piece of work, but Professor Cox's translation has carried over into English the meaning and spirit of the original. The general editorial policy of preceding volumes has been followed in the present one. Notes have usually been supplied by Professor Cox. Those supplied by the general editor are signed "J. A. R." The translator and editor has added a biographical appendix of persons mentioned in the narrative, the data for which have been taken, so far as those connected with the history of Chile are concerned, from well-known national sources. This will add interest to the author's work.

Professor Cox has long been familiar with the history of Chile and has several times visited that country. He has, therefore, more than a mere academic interest in it. To have known the great bibliographer, José Toribio Medina, is itself an achievement.

Those connected with this series hope that this volume, as well as all those which have preceded it and those which will follow it, may draw closer the intellectual and cultural bonds between Anglo and Hispanic America.

James A. Robertson

 p. ix  Introduction by the Translator and Editor

Chile is a land of contrasts. The phrase, often repeated, cannot be too thoroughly emphasized. The long and narrow country, hemmed in by the Andes and the ocean, stretches from the desert area of Atacama southward to the bleak rain-drenched and forbidding slopes of Tierra del Fuego. From its eastern mountain barrier rises Aconcagua, the highest peak of the Americas, while relatively near its western shore line may be found some of the deepest of the Pacific's submerged areas. From barren area to dense forest, from mineral region to fertile valley, luxuriant in subtropic vegetation, the little country shows a wide variety in climate, in production, and in natural advantages.

Likewise varied are its population elements. In the pre-Hispanic period its aborigines exhibited marked cultural variations between those groups in the north which accepted the sway of the Inca Empire and the Araucanians of the south-central portion, ready to put up a stiff and lasting resistance to the Spanish conquest, or the miserable denizens of the extreme south. To this remote land the conquering Spaniards at different times sent representatives of sunny Andalusia and of the stormy Cantabrians, together with stubborn Aragonese and energetic Catalonians. To these varieties of Spanish forebears, the period of independence and subsequent years gave a British tinge, while recent decades added French, German, Italian, and Slavic elements. From these divers sources there is developing an ethnic stock that is gradually acquiring national consciousness. Even today it exhibits less evidence of divergent origins than its neighbors to the northward. For the future it gives promise of prolific fecundity.

The history of Chile, as might be inferred, likewise reveals striking contrasts. Its conquest partook of the features that marked the occupation of Mexico and Peru, but with scant material reward to its ruthless conquerors. During the colonial period the region developed much as did other Spanish colonies in America, but in most respects life there seemed more isolated and drab than elsewhere. Churchmen and civil administrators were of the usual Iberian type, but they wrought in a more remote field where good work was less appreciated or poor performance ignored. Rebellion, reconquest, and finally victory marked its struggle for independence, bringing forth, as did the contest in other parts of the  p. x Spanish dominions, both farsighted civic leaders and overambitious militarists. Under the direction of a dominant aristocracy — determined, if not always enlightened — it emerged more rapidly than they from the anarchy that closed the struggle and adopted a stabilized, if repressive regime of law and order. Changes in government, once the system was well established, have been very few. Its material progress has been consistent, although not equally shared by all classes. Its general development has been many-sided, emphasizing cultural features as well as material gain. Literary efforts have kept pace with mineral production. As in all other nations of Latin origin, political expression seems to require numerous party divisions, but proceeds through fairly regular channels. Even in the economic and social upheaval of recent years, Chile has suffered less disturbance than many of her sister republics.

The present work aims to set forth this complex yet unified story. For more than thirty years the Estudio of Luis Galdames has been used in the schools of Chile. During that period it has also become favorably known outside the country as one of the leading texts of its type. For this reason it has been selected to represent Chile in the Inter-American Series. The first edition of the book appeared in 1906. The present translation was first made from the sixth edition, which appeared in 1925, but was revised and compared with the seventh edition which came out three years later, and finally with the eighth edition which was published in 1938. The translation represents a faithful attempt to reproduce the author's interpretation of his nation's history, but it has been deemed advisable to omit the elaborate table of contents which the author published at the end of his last edition and the separate parts repeated at the head of each chapter. A few of the chapters as given in the last edition have been combined, but those are the only changes in the chapter headings. The translator and editor has likewise adopted more concise wording for the chapter subheads, and he hopes this will give the book a better appearance and at the same time present adequate subdivisions to the text. In view of the fact that the last edition of the author has just appeared, it has been deemed unnecessary for the editor to add a final chapter covering recent events. He has, however, noted a few important developments in the text or in footnotes, as may be observed in chapter nineteen.

A word with respect to the author of this work. Luis Galdames graduated in 1906 from the Instituto pedagógico, now a part of the national university. Following the customary procedure in higher  p. xi education, he completed a law course and was licensed as advocate in 1903. His thesis on this occasion was "La lucha contra el crimen" (The Struggle against Crime). Still following the usual procedure, he practiced law for a time and then took up teaching as his life work. Before studying law Galdames had conducted classes in private schools. In 1905 he began work as a state teacher in history and geography in the Commercial Institute. Combining instruction there with similar work in the Liceo Barros Borgoño, in 1913, he became rector of the Liceo Miguel Luis Amunátegui. Here, through his ability as a teacher and organizer, he increased the enrollment of the school to one thousand students. In 1912 he became editor of La revista de educación nacional and in 1917 took on another educational review, La vida nacional, at the same time holding various offices in pedagogical organizations. Besides press work, he published in 1904 El decenio de Montt and in 1911, Geografía económica de Chile, as well as numerous monographs on educational and economic topics. In 1926 appeared the first volume of his monumental work, La evolución constitucional de Chile, 1810‑1925. His writings are the fruit of persistent application, of intimate and accurate knowledge of his sources, of good judgment in the selection and treatment of topics, and of literary skill of no mean order.

Señor Galdames has not held aloof from civic activities. In 1918 he helped to organize the Partido nacionalista (Nationalist party), which its founders hoped would develop in keeping with the name. He acted as secretary of this group until directed by the minister of education to resign. In that same year he was the unsuccessful candidate of his party for the post of deputy in the national congress. He took an important part in the educational reforms attempted in 1928 and was chiefly responsible for the Reglamento general de educación secundaria which he fathered as director of secondary education for the country. Although his stay in that position was brief and his report is as yet disregarded, it will serve as a model for possible future reforms. Believing as he does in applying education to practical needs, Señor Galdames has made extensive studies abroad in pursuit of his ideal, and in 1935 assisted in reorganizing the educational system of Costa Rica, and in 1938 that of the Dominican Republic. At present he is dean of the faculty of social sciences, including the Instituto pedagógico, a part of the University of Chile.

Señor Galdames did not find the history of Chile an untrodden  p. xii field. Its contributors, as the select bibliography of the present work will attest, are many. The annals of the country up to the middle of the nineteenth century were in a peculiar sense the province of Don Diego Barros Arana. From one point of view, the Estudio of Galdames is an epitome of the score or more of volumes produced by that great annalist. The younger writer has not merely abridged the older man's work and that of divers others for the later period, but he has given to his volume a life and force that make it in a very real sense his own. The fact that the book has passed through eight editions in the course of more than thirty years is sufficient proof of its originality and of its worth as a secondary school text. He has other rivals in this field, but his text holds first place for fullness, interpretation, style, and objective treatment.

The Spanish edition of the work contains no biographical or other notes. This was natural for it was intended for Chilean students and for general readers who would be reasonably familiar with the names mentioned. Readers from other lands, however, might require further explanation. Hence it has been esteemed desirable to sketch briefly in an appendix, alphabetically arranged, the careers of the persons mentioned in the text, so that those interested may readily find them. A few brief biographical sketches are given in footnotes.

My wife, Grace Elizabeth Cox, made the first rough draft of the translation and helped to prepare the index. The line maps in the volume were prepared by my son, Walter Yost Cox. The illustrations are presented by the University of Chile, through the courtesy of Señor Raul Ramírez; Sr. Alberto Cabero, Chilean ambassador to the United States; and W. R. Grace and Company. In preparing the copy for the press, the editor has had the assistance of Mrs. Pearl Hoose Doughty, Mrs. Kathryn Sanders Fisher, Mrs. Miralotte Sauer Ickes, and Miss Lorraine Ellison. He wishes also to express his appreciation for the patient assistance rendered by the late general editor and by the director and members of the editorial staff of the University of North Carolina Press, especially Mrs. Catherine G. Anderson.

Isaac Joslin Cox

Northwestern University
November, 1940

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