Manuel Bulnes

Manuel Bulnes
President of Chile
In office
18 September 1841  18 September 1851
Preceded by José Joaquín Prieto
Succeeded by Manuel Montt
Personal details
Born 25 December 1799
Concepción, Chile
Died 18 October 1866(1866-10-18) (aged 66)
Santiago, Chile
Political party Conservative Party
Spouse(s) Enriqueta Pinto
Children Lucia Bulnes de Vergara
Military service

Chilean War of Independence

Chilean Civil War of 1829–30

Campaign against the Pincheira brothers

  • Battle of Epulafquén

War of the Confederation

Revolution of 1851

Manuel Bulnes Prieto (December 25, 1799 – October 18, 1866) was a Chilean military and political figure. He was twice President of Chile, from 1841 to 1846 and from 1846 to 1851.

Born in Concepción, he served as the president of Chile between 1841 and 1851. At the age of 16 he was imprisoned as a revolutionary by the Spanish authorities, but was soon released, and in 1818 joined the army of San Martin under whom he served as colonel throughout the Chilean War of Independence. After three years of continuous warfare (1820–23), he accomplished the temporary conquest of the Arucanian Indians. He was appointed brigadier general in 1831. In 1832 he crossed the Cordillera and defeated decisively the Pincheira brothers in the battle of Epulafquén. Then Bulnes commanded the Chilean army in 1838 against Gen. Santa Cruz in Peru; and, after taking Lima and winning the battles of Huaraz and Puente del Buin, combined his forces with those of Gamarra and defeated Santa Cruz at the Battle of Yungay (January 19, 1839), thus putting an end to the confederation between Peru and Bolivia.

Presidency 1841 - 1851

His presidencies were characterised by educational and cultural expansion, supported by the encouragement of foreign intellectuals to come to Chile. The National Institute was reformed and several junior schools were established along with the José Abelardo Núñez Upper School. In Santiago the University of Chile was founded during his watch, in 1842.

Bulnes also presided over a general amnesty in order to reconcile the groups who had opposed one another in the Civil War of 1829.

Regarding the nation's strategic goals, Bulnes founded Fuerte Bulnes in 1843 in order to establish and enforce sovereignty over the Magellan Straits. The settlement was relocated to Punta Arenas six years later because the original site offered insufficient space for the development of a settled community: it was and remains the most southerly municipality in the world, and has been a focus for economic development in the south of the country. Germans were targeted to colonise the hitherto very sparsely inhabited southern part of Chile in the wake of the 1848 revolutions which provided an impetus for emigration from the European perspective.

It was also during the presidency of Bulnes that the former colonial power, Spain, acknowledged the independence of Chile and became involved in the construction of Chile's first railway.

Manuel Bulnes Prieto died in Santiago.


The Bulnes Cabinet
Office Name Term
President Manuel Bulnes18 September 184118 September 1851
Minister of the Interior & Foreign Affairs Ramón Luis Yrarrázabal19 May 184110 April 1845
Manuel Montt10 April 184518 September 1846
Manuel Camilo Vial18 September 184612 June 1849
José Joaquín Pérez12 June 184919 April 1850
Antonio Varas19 April 1850
Minister of War & Navy General José María de la Cruz18 September 184120 April 1842
General José Santiago Aldunate20 April 184218 September 1846
General José Manuel Borgoño18 September 18468 April 1848
Pedro Nolasco Vidal8 April 184818 September 1851
Minister of Finance Manuel Rengifo18 September 184110 April 1845
José Joaquín Pérez10 April 184522 September 1846
Manuel Camilo Vial22 September 18469 May 1848
Salvador Sanfuentes9 May 184812 June 1849
Antonio García Reyes12 June 184919 April 1850
Jerónimo Urmeneta19 April 18507 May 1852
Minister of Justice, Clergy & Public Instruction Manuel Montt27 March 184110 April 1845
Antonio Varas10 April 184518 September 1846
Salvador Sanfuentes18 September 184612 June 1849
Manuel Antonio Tocornal12 June 18492 July 1850
Máximo Mujica2 July 185018 September 1851


Political offices
Preceded by
José Joaquín Prieto
President of Chile
Succeeded by
Manuel Montt
Military offices
Preceded by
José Joaquín Prieto
Army Commander-in-chief
Succeeded by
Marcos Maturana
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