This insightful biography tells the story of San Martin, who was just as important in establishing the independence of Latin America as Bolivar, but did not share his fame. His contributions to the independence of Argentina, Peru and Chile are covered, but San Martin's history ends in 1822 when he resigned his command in favor of Bolivar, in order to avert a civil war. San Martin was a wise and heroic figure who and accurately assessed the limitations of republican government in Latin America, but his warnings remained unheeded.
GENERAL SAN MARTIN
It is with great pleasure that I accept the invitation to write a brief preface to the work of Anna Schoellkopf, who has written a brief but concise sketch of the life of our great general and patriot, General Jose de San Martin.
The complete biography and accurate chronological examination of the military life of the hero will doubtless achieve the high purpose of the writer, that of spreading abroad in its principal aspects the personality of General de San Martin.
As the authoress well expresses it, San Martin was a "natural leader of men," called to become the genial executor of a collective movement which reveals the soul and the vigor of a country, and which by its own greatness makes the hero one of the greatest figures of humanity.
In effect, the movement not only signifies a fight for the conquest of an independent life, the Argentine Emancipation—for more than a political revolution is a social revolution—but it is the realization of that ideal of human dignity which, in 1789, opened new moral backgrounds to the world. In a word, it is the incorporation of a Continent in "the declaration of the rights of man."
The greatness of that epic and of this hero can only be appreciated by what can be called retrospective meditation, analyzing the several factors that were in the way.
It was necessary to build the weapon and to create the idea, to obtain funds from poverty, to develop military genius without soldiers, to form armies, to cross mountains, to organize navies, and to fight against superior forces always brave, and veterans.
But it is evident that, as in the powerful action of the elements, the fight for a great ideal always carries with it an invincible force that nothing can overcome.
The history of General Jose de San Martin has been amply and authoritatively recorded by General Bartolome Mitre in three exhaustive volumes.
In writing this work he has consulted all the books, pamphlets, newspapers, and fly-sheets which had ever been printed concerning San Martin. In his Preface he says:
"The most important of these sources of information has been the archive of General San Martin himself, which was placed at my disposal by his son-in-law, the late Don Mariano Balcarce. I have also consulted the archives of this city, from the year 1812 to the year 1824, without which it would have been impossible to compile a complete history. The archives of the Director Pueyrredon placed at my disposal by his son, have also been of great service to me, as also were those of General O'Higgins, Don Tomas Godoy Cruz, General Las Heras, and others. Too I have acquired much verbal information from conversations held with many of the contemporaries of San Martin and with some of his companions in arms.
"In addition to consulting all available maps and plans relating to the campaigns of San Martin, I have inspected in person the routes followed by the army of the Andes and have personally made sketches of the scene of memorable events when plans were not forthcoming."
From Dr. Mitre's works translated and untranslated I have almost entirely taken the material contained in this small volume, often quoting pages verbatum.
To Dr. Jorge Mitre, the distinguished son of a famous father, owner and publisher of the great Argentine daily, La Nacion, I wish to extend my deepest thanks for generously putting at my disposal much invaluable information.
Dr. Mitre's son has affectionately kept his father's room exactly as it was left when death cut short his activities. The last books he touched remain a mute but eloquent testimony to his industry and to his wide range of knowledge and interest. His completed translation of Dante's Inferno had been gone over; fatigued by his work he had picked up one of his favorite books . . . Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer! Those two books visualize for us much of the man. General Mitre was a poet, a historian, a tactician, and a great and good man.
Again in the preface of his history of San Martin, General Mitre says:
"This book will not be the historical monument which posterity will some day consecrate to the immortal memory of San Martin, but those who do at some future date erect it, will herein find abundant materials, stones finished or roughly cut, with which solidly to lay out the foundations."
Everything I have learned concerning General San Martin has proved so inspiring that I have been impelled to present, however inadequately, to English-speaking readers, this little story of the incomparable achievements of a man whose influence on South America has been epoch-making, and permanent.
I must add that in compiling this book I am also indebted for certain information taken from the writings of: Mr. Adolfo P. Carranza's work entitled San Martin, to Mr. Manuel F. Mantilla's book also called San Martin, to Mr. Herman C. James and Mr. Percy A. Martin's Republics of Latin America, and to Mr. William Pilling who has made some translations of Dr. Mitre's book.
I have endeavored in this documented sketch to give only the opinions of recognized authors.
Throughout it all, my only ambition is that the people of North America, their interest quickened by this brief and most incomplete sketch, may be inspired to further develop the subject until it receives some way, somehow, fitting presentation.
MAP OF SOUTH AMERICA