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Jose Miguel Infante

Jose Miguel Infante y Rojas was a Chilean statesman and political figure. He served several times as deputy and minister, and was the force behind the Federalist movement in that country.

He was born in Santiago, the son of Agustin Infante y Prado and of Rosa Rojas. He studied law in the College of San Carlos, and was admitted to practice in 1806. From a very young age, he was very inclined to study political philosophy and to read the classics. His maternal uncle, Jose Antonio de Rojas incentivated him by granting him access to his library, at that point the most extensive in Chile. There he became acquainted with the works of French and English enlightenment authors, specially those who were prohibited by the Church. He also became interested in the work of Voltaire and the encyclopedists, and became one of the foremost theorists of the age in Chile. When the first symptoms of the revolutionary movement showed themselves, he was one of the earliest to accept the idea with enthusiasm.

In 1810, he became corporation counsellor of the municipality of Santiago. The year 1810 was very complicated politically for the Spanish empire in general, and for Chile in particular. Two years before the King Ferdinand VII had been imprisoned in France. In Chile, the Royal Governor Francisco Antonio Garcia Carrasco had been forced to resign due to his ineptitude and corruption, and had been replaced by Mateo de Toro y Zambrano. Infante's intellectual reputation helped him contribute to the formation of the first independent junta that could help reshape the political arena. So, after Mateo de Toro y Zambrano took over as Royal Governor, he was convinced to call an open meeting of the leading citizens of the city to decide the political future of the colony. He convened such a meeting for the morning of September 18, 1810. The discussion ended with the conformation of the Government Junta of the Kingdom of Chile, where he was a very active member of the assembly.

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