Letters written by South American liberator donated to libraries

Author: Dennis Brown

A one-of-a-kind collection of 45 letters written by the legendary 19th-century South American liberator Jose de San Martin has been donated to the University of Notre Dame libraries.

The correspondence is a gift from Notre Dame alumnus Robert O’Grady and his wife, Beverly, who will formally present it to the University at 10 a.m. March 22 (Friday) in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the Hesburgh Library on campus. The event is free and open to the public.p. Born in Argentina in 1778, San Martin lived most of his early life in Spain, where he served as an officer in the army. He began to sympathize with the independence efforts of Spanish colonies in the Americas and returned to Argentina in 1812 to train a revolutionary army.p. Widely recognized as a brilliant military strategist, San Martin is perhaps best known for liberating Chile by leading a rebel force across the Andes Mountains in 1817, a feat comparable to Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps. His army of 3,000 soldiers defeated the Spanish in Chacabuco and, after a decisive victory at Maipu in 1818, San Martin established a nationalist government in Santiago. He refused the presidency, however, in favor of his friend and lieutenant, Chilean general Bernardo O’Higgins.p. Two years later, San Martin organized a land and sea campaign to liberate Peru from Spanish rule. He occupied Lima in the summer of 1821 and was proclaimed “Protector of Peru.” But the following year, after negotiations that never have been fully explained, he stepped aside to allow the Venezuelan general Simon Bolivar to take control.p. San Martin returned to Europe in 1829 and retired in France, where he died in 1850.p. The letters donated by the O’Gradys to Notre Dame were written between 1814 and 1821. The earliest messages document San Martin’s preparations for the heroic crossing of the Andes, while later letters deal with the ground and sea campaign in Peru. Most of the correspondence is to O’Higgins, reporting on the Chilean campaign’s progress, coordinating troop movements or requesting supplies.p. The San Martin letters add to Notre Dame’s O’Grady Collection, the foremost assembly of rare books and manuscripts on the Southern Cone of Latin America in the United States. Robert O’Grady is a native of Argentina and a 1963 graduate of Notre Dame.p. More information is available on the Web at: http://www.rarebooks.nd.edu/collections/

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