Émigrés, Refugees, and Property Seizures: Chilean Officials in the Role of Family Providers
Chapter 3 analyzes the records of sequestration commissions, petitions, and lawsuits to evaluate one of the primary reprisals that affected all members of a family during the wars of independence: the seizure of property belonging to émigrés and to those suspected of aiding the enemy. Patriots used some of the assets to reward their supporters and to care for refugees from their forced evacuation of southern Chile. Faced with a flood of petitions from wives and heirs who painted themselves as innocent bystanders rather than compromised partisans, however, officials often decided that it was ultimately less costly to pay some dependents a maintenance allowance, or even return some assets, than to have a population of destitute refugees that could serve as an ongoing political challenge. In turn, those for whom the new state provided, mostly Chilean-born women and children, were expected to shift their fidelity from biological to political fathers.