Chilean statesman and liberal reformer. He was first elected to the Chilean Congress as a Liberal in 1864. As leader of the anti-clerical group he was sent to Argentina in 1878 to persuade that country not to enter the War of the Pacific. He became a member of the cabinet of President Santa Maria (1881–86) and was himself then elected President (1886–91). Despite national prosperity, tension arose between President and Congress, which Balmaceda increasingly ignored. In January 1891 this resulted in civil war. Balmaceda took refuge in the Argentinian Embassy, where, rather than face trial, he shot himself.
Subjects: World History.