Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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INFANTE, Jose Miguel (in-fan'-tay), Chilian statesman, born in Santiago, Chili, in March, 1778; died there, 9 April, 1844. He studied law in the College of San Carlos, and was admitted to practice in 1801. When the first symptoms of the revolutionary movement showed themselves, he was one of the earliest to accept the idea with enthusiasm, and as corporation counsellor of the municipality of Santiago contributed to the formation of the first independent junta, which met on 18 September, 1810. In the first meeting he asked for the convocation of a popular congress to declare the independence of the nation, and, notwithstanding strong opposition, carried his point. The congress that met 4 July, 1811, may be said to be principally the work of Infante. When the first President of the independent government, Carrera, was elected commander-in-chief of the forces that marched to repel the invasion of General Pareja, Infante was elected regent of the governing junta. During his term the junta adopted the national flag, and founded the National institute of science and numerous primary schools throughout the country. In 1814 Infante was sent as diplomatic agent to the revolutionary government of Buenos Ayres, where he remained for some time, but after the battle of Chacabuco, 12 February, 1817, he returned to his country, and was appointed secretary of the treasury by the director O'Higgins in 1818. He introduced many improvements during his short term of office, and. not being in accord with the director, he soon resigned. On 28 January, 1823, with other citizens, he convened a public meeting, and defended the liberty of the nation. O'Higgins in consequence resigned the executive. In the same year General Freire was elected president of the republic, and offered Infante a seat in the superior court, which he at first declined, but afterward accepted, His first measure was the abolition of slavery in the territory of Chili, which in later years he counted his principal glory. He desired that the only inscription on his tomb should be "The author of the law of abolition." When General Freire marched for the second time against the Spanish forces in the archipelago of Chiloe in 1824, he instituted a council of regency, of which Infante was president, and one of his principal measures was the banishment of the bishop Zorrilla, whose intrigues were threatening the public security. Infante was an admirer of the United States, and in 1826 as senator laid before congress a proposition to form a federal republic. As his ideas were not generally accepted, he supported them by founding in 1827 "El Valdiviano Federal." of which he was the editor, and till his death he continued to write all the leading articles for this paper. in 1830 Infante was elected to congress, but soon resigned. In 1843 his eminent services were acknowledged by the appointment of first judge of the supreme court and member of the faculty of law of the University of Chili, but he refused both places. Recently congress erected a statue in his honor in the Alameda of Santiago.
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