MONTT, MANUEL (1809–1880), Chilean statesman, was born on the 5th of September 1809. He had a distinguished career as a scholar, and was introduced into public life during the presidency (1831–1841) of Arieto by Diego Portales. Montt distinguished himself by his courage in the crisis that followed upon Portales' assassination in 1837, though only holding a subordinate post in the government, and afterwards he held several ministerial offices, and during the presidency (1841–1851) of Bulnes he became minister of justice and public instruction, and later of the interior. He was elected president in 1851 and again in 1856, and though the Liberals chafed under his rule, and two revolutions, in 1851 and 1859, took place during his administration, he governed Chile with an energy and wisdom that laid the foundation of her material prosperity. He was ably assisted by his minister of the interior Antonio Varas, and it was from the union of the two statesmen that the well-known ultra-conservative faction, the Montt-Varistas, took their name. His presidency was marked by the establishment of railways, telegraphs, banks, schools and training-colleges. On giving up his post in 1861 he became president of the Supreme Court of justice, a position which he held up to his death on the 20th of September 1880. His son Jorje (b. 1846) was president of Chile in 1891–1896, and a younger son, Pedro (d. 1910), in 1906–1910.
See P. B. Figueroa, Diccionario biografico de Chile, 1550–1887 (Santiago, 1888); and J. B. Suarez, Rasgos biograficos de hombres notables de Chile (Valparaiso, 1886).