Ramón Freire Serrano: Biography And Works

Ramón Freire Serrano was a great Chilean politician and military man who fought during the country’s war of independence . As part of his political struggle, he reached the position of president on several occasions. Beginning with the death of his father when he was just a 16-year-old teenager, Freire enlisted in the army.

Thus began a military career that led him to participate in a large number of battles for the future independence of Chile. The first time was between 1823 and 1826, when he was appointed supreme director by the Constituent Congress.

Ramon Freire Serrano

His second term took place in 1827, the year in which he assumed the presidency of Chile for only 2 months. Later he was forced to withdraw from the Chilean political contest. Both periods had interruptions characteristic of the context of the time.


Ramón Freire was born in Santiago on November 27, 1787. He was the son of Don Francisco Antonio Freire y Paz and Doña Gertrudis Serrano y Arrechea. As a teenager he suffered the loss of his father, and to support himself he had to work in different commercial establishments.

In 1811 he chose to join the militia through the squad called Dragones de la Frontera. In this way, he began a career that marked the rest of his life, both from a military and a political point of view.

Little is known of his sentimental life, but some manuscripts indicate that he married Doña Manuela Caldera Mascayano in October 1826.

From that relationship four children were born, whom they baptized with the names of Liborio Ramón, Zenón, Amable and Francisco de Paula. Ramón Freire died on September 9, 1851.

Military career

With the rank of lieutenant he participated in great battles, such as El Quillo and El Roble. Already in 1814, with the rank of captain, he emigrated to Argentine lands after the defeat of his patriotic forces.

There he met Admiral Guillermo Brown and with him he made a series of adventures through the seas, until he was about to lose his life due to a shipwreck.

With new aspirations, the young adventurer enlisted in the army of the Andes, and under the command of General José de San Martín he had successful exploits; the most notorious was the Battle of Maipú.

In 1818 Ramón Freire was appointed by his combat friend Bernardo O’Higgins, as mayor of Concepción; but this friendship was deteriorating in such a way that Freire Serrano put up great resistance to the policy of the then president of Chile O’Higgins.

Soon after he participated in arduous disputes against O’Higgins and his supporters. He took up arms to overthrow him, which allowed him to take up his post and thus obtain the first magistracy of Chile.

Presidency (1823-1826)

Freire led a military movement that overthrew President Bernardo O’Higgins. Then, by decision of the Constituent Assembly, he was appointed president or supreme director.

When taking the government he imposed a dictatorial line, with liberal and nationalist policies. This period was characterized by having serious problems in its diplomatic relations between the new administration and the former metropolis.

The problems with the Spanish military forces stationed in Chilean lands were very serious and irreconcilable. This led Freire to expel them from the Island of Chiloé; thus, he freed Chile from the Spanish yoke.

Such a feat positioned him very well in front of the people, but that success was short-lived. The serious social and economic crisis in Chile involved the entire society; This caused the discontent of many of his followers.

Freire decided to resign from the high office in 1826. Despite his resignation, political instability continued in the country. That made Freire have to intervene militarily to support the governments of the day for which he had sympathy.

Defeat at Lircay

Always with power and struggle on his mind, in April 1830 he attempted to overthrow the government in power. The setting was the Battle of Lircay, where he was defeated.

Later he was captured, put in prison and sent into exile towards Tahiti. However, after an amnesty carried out by Manuel Bulnes, he was allowed to return to Chile in 1842.


Although Freire had to govern in very convulsive and confused years, there are several works that stand out from both his political and military career.

Abolition of slavery

The work that stands out the most is the definitive abolition of slavery. This was carried out on July 24, 1823 by means of the decree that contained the Law of abolition of absolute slavery.

Freedom of the press and  commercial code

During his presidency, freedom of the press was also decreed, and as president he contributed to the drafting of the Chilean trade regulations. The latter encouraged the economic and commercial market of the nascent southern independent republic.

Decisions against the Church

In the religious sphere there were also several decisions that gained him some popularity, especially among the Chilean people. Among these was the confiscation of valuable assets that had previously belonged to the Church. However, as was to be expected, this produced great discontent with the Vatican.

Trade measures

In commercial matters, the monopolistic measures adopted by the administration of Ramón Freire Serrano stand out. As president, he granted the monopoly of the tobacco industry to the commercial companies Cea and Portales.

“Chile” instead of “homeland”

Another highly relevant act carried out by Freire Serrano’s management was the signing of a decree that changed the word “Homeland” to “Chile” in the official documentation.

Expulsion of Spanish troops

One of the most successful actions of Ramón Freire’s political and military work was the definitive expulsion of the royalist Spanish military contingent located in the Chiloé archipelago. This posed a potential risk to the recently achieved Chilean independence.


  1. Larousse Universal History, Present World 1967- Present
  2. Encyclopedia Labor, (1975) Volume 5, Part Two, Remove Edition, Editorial Labor, SA
  3. Chilean Memory, National Library of Chile. (2018) Ramón Freire Serrano. Recovered in: memoriachilena.cl
  4. Biographies and Lives. Online Biographical Encyclopedia, (2004-2018) Ramón Freire. Recovered in biografiasyvidas.com
  5. The abolition of slavery in Chile. Recovered in: archivonacional.cl

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