Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

towards the Pan-American Congress at Mexico became a matter of interest in the autumn, particularly in connexion with the proposal for compulsory arbitration between all American governments. The Chilean government made it quite clear that they would withdraw from the congress if this proposal was meant to be retroactive; and their unyielding attitude testified to the apprehensions felt by Chile concerning United States interference. In October the Chilean government announced that the contemplated conversion scheme, for which gold had been accumulated, would be postponed for two years (till October 1903), the gold being held as a reserve fund pending the result of the arbitration over the Argentine frontier. This was generally considered to be a reasonable and statesmanlike course. Unfortunately, a recrudescence of the excitement over the boundary dispute was occasioned by the irritation created in Argentina by the fact that, pending a decision, Chile was constructing roads in the disputed territory. During December 1901 relations were exceedingly strained, and troops were called out on both sides. But at the end of the month it was agreed to leave the question to the British arbitrators, and the latter decided to send one of their number, Sir T. H. Holdich, to examine the territory.

The survey occupied some eight months, and it was not until the autumn that Sir T. H. Holdich returned to England to make his report. The difficulty of ascertaining the true line watershed had been very great, but the result Argentine boundary award.was eminently successful. The award of King Edward was signed on the 20th of November 1902, and both parties to the litigation were satisfied. In order that future disputes might be amicably settled, a treaty was signed by which it was agreed that any question that might arise should be submitted to the arbitration of Great Britain or in default of that power to the Swiss Confederation. The removal of this source of irritation and the restoration of friendly relations between the two republics was a great relief to the finance of Chile. Had it not been for the political instability of the country, the effects of the diminution of expenditure on military and naval preparations would have effected a rapid improvement in its financial position. The constant change of ministry (there being no stable majority in the congress) prevented during 1903 any settled policy, or that confidence in the government which is the basis of commercial prosperity. In 1904, however, both trade and revenue showed signs of improvement, and the sale of the warships “Esmeralda” and “Chambuco” for £1,000,000 furnished a surplus, which was devoted to the improvement of the port of Valparaiso. This was the beginning of a period of steady industrial growth and development. The settlement of the long outstanding dispute with Bolivia in a treaty of peace signed on the 17th of October 1905 was very advantageous to both countries. By this treaty Bolivia ceded all claims to a seaport and strip of the coast, on condition that Chile constructed at her own charges a railway to Lapaz from the port of Arica, giving at the same time to Bolivia free transit across Chilean territory to the sea. A cash indemnity of £300,000 was also paid, and certain stipulations were made with regard to the construction of other railways giving access from Chile to the Bolivian interior.

The prosperity of Chile was to suffer a rude shock. On the 17th of August 1906 a terrible earthquake visited Valparaiso and the surrounding district. The town of Valparaiso was almost entirely destroyed, while Santiago and Valparaiso earthquake.other towns were severely shaken and suffered much damage. It was estimated that about 3000 persons were killed, a still larger number injured, and at least 100,000 rendered homeless. The loss of property was enormous. The fire which broke out after the earthquake shock had subsided added to the horror of the catastrophe. Measures were, however, promptly taken for succouring the people, who had been driven from their homes, and the task of restoration was vigorously taken in hand. Before the end of the year the rebuilding of the city was rapidly progressing.

In 1906 Señor Pedro Montt was elected president and entered upon his office on the 17th of September. The personality of the president, however, had become of much less importance in modern Chile than in earlier days. Up to 1870 the government was in the hands of a small oligarchy of Santiago President Pedro Montt.families, but the president enjoyed large powers of initiative. Nowadays the congress has virtually absorbed the executive power, with the result that the cabinet is often changed many times in one year. This prevents indeed any continuity of policy, for the majority in congress is perpetually fluctuating, and ministerial crises rapidly follow one another. Chile, however, except in the Balmacedist civil war, is happily distinguished by its freedom from revolution and serious political unrest. Its history in this respect is in marked contrast to that of the neighbouring South American states. The completion of the Trans-Andean railway between Valparaiso and Buenos Aires was bound to be of immense commercial and industrial value; and eventually the making of a longitudinal railway route uniting the nitrate province of the north with Santiago, and Santiago with Puerto Montt in the distant south, opened up further important prospects. Such a line of through communication, binding together the different provinces forming the long narrow strip of territory stretching along more than 2000 m. of the Pacific littoral, could only be looked forward to, both politically and economically, as an inestimable benefit to the country.

Bibliography.General History.—The most valuable authority is D. Barros Arana’s Historia jeneral de Chile (15 vols., Santiago, 1884), from the earliest days up to 1830. Smaller handbooks covering the whole period are: A. U. Hancock, a History of Chile (Chicago, 1893), the only general history in English, and containing a bibliography; Gaspar Toro, Compendio de la historia de Chile (Santiago, 1879), a good clear abstract of Chilean history; and F. Valdes Vergara, Historia de Chile (Valparaiso, 1898), written primarily for schools, but containing useful sketches of leading figures in Chilean history.

Works on Special Periods.—Colonial Period: M. L. Amunátequi, Descubri miento y conquista de Chile (Santiago, 1885), a valuable detailed account of the Spanish conquest; by same author, Los Precursores de la independencia de Chile (Santiago, 1870), a clear useful description of the evils of the Spanish colonial system; Horacio Lara, Cronica de la Araucania (Santiago, 1889), a history of the Araucanian Indians right up to recent dates; Abbé Eyzaguirre, Histoire du Chili (Lille, 1855), mainly dealing with the position of the Church during the colonial period. Perez Garcia’s Historia del reino de Chile (Santiago, 1900), an old history by a Spanish officer written about 1780, and Molina’s History of Chili in the English translation (London, 1809), will also be found useful. Useful material for research exists in J. T. Medina’s Coleccion de documentos para la historia de Chile (Santiago, 1888), a collection of despatches and official documents; his Cosas de la colonia (Santiago, 1889), an accumulation of undigested information about life in the colonial period; and Historiadores de Chile (21 vols., Santiago, 1861), a collection of ancient chronicles and official documents up to the early part of the 17th century.

Revolutionary Period.—A. Roldan, Las Primeras Asambleas nacionales (Santiago, 1890), an account of the struggles in the first national assemblies; A. Valdes, Revolucion Chilena y campañas de la independencia (Santiago, 1888), an account of the early fighting and rivalry of the revolutionary leaders; W. Pilling, Emancipation of South America (London, 1893), a translation of B. Mitre’s life of San Martin, describing the fighting in the wars of independence; Lord Cochrane, Narrative of Services in Chile, Peru and Brazil (London, 1859), an autobiography describing the naval exploits that helped to secure the expulsion of the Spaniards; B. Vicuña Machenna, Vida de O’Higgins (Santiago, 1882), giving a useful account of the revolutionary struggle and the main actors; and the same author’s Historia jeneral de la republica de Chile, a collection of essays on the early republican history by various writers.

Later History.—R. Sotomayor Valdes, Historia de Chili, 1831–1871, a detailed account of the period (Santiago, 1875); the same author’s Campaña del ejercito Chileno en 1837 (Santiago, 1896), describing the fighting of the first Peruvian War; B. Vicuña Machenna, D. Diego Portales (Valparaiso, 1863), a good account of the life and time of Portales, the famous minister of the Conservative party; P. B. Fiqueroa, Historia de la revolution constituyente 1858–59 (Santiago, 1889), an account of the revolution at the end of Montt’s presidency; F. Fonch, Chile in der Gegenwart (Berlin, 1870), a description of Chile at the time; Statement on Behalf of Chile (in the Chilean-Argentine Boundary Arbitration) (6 vols., London, 1901–1902); Sir Thomas Holdich, Countries of the King’s Award (1904); Beltran y Rospido, Los Pueblos hispano-americanos en el siglo XX. (Madrid, 1904); P. F. Martin, Through Five Republics of South America (London, 1906); Wright, The Republic of Chile (London, 1905); G. F. Scott Elliot, Chilé (London, 1907); Sir W. M.