History, Conservative Period
Diego Portales, Bolivian army, republican form of government, executive department, domestic policies
O’Higgins ruled the country with dictatorial powers until 1823, when popular hostility to his regime forced his resignation. A liberal constitution, establishing a republican form of government, was then adopted, but political strife among numerous organizations contending for power kept Chile in turmoil until 1830. In that year conservative elements, headed by General Joaquin Prieto, organized a successful rebellion and seized control of the government. In 1831 Prieto became president, but the leading person in the government was Diego Portales, who filled various cabinet posts during Prieto’s administration. A new constitution, vesting immense powers in the executive department of the government, was adopted in 1833. Liberal groups launched armed attempts to remove the Conservatives from power in 1835, 1851, and 1859, but these attempts failed.
Despite its authoritarian character, the Conservative Party government fostered domestic policies that contributed substantially to the commercial and agricultural development of Chile. Steps were taken to exploit mineral resources, railroads were constructed, and immigration was encouraged. A school system and cultural institutions were established. The chief development in Chilean foreign relations during this period of Conservative dominance was a series of conflicts with Bolivia and Peru, which were united in a confederation from 1836 to 1839. Fearing a powerful rival for dominance in the region, Chile invaded Peru in 1839 and defeated the Peruvian navy and the Bolivian army. The Chilean victories put an end to the Peru-Bolivia Confederation.
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