During the era of Latin American independence, up to 20,000 British mercenaries and adventurers continent-wide participated in the overthrow of the Spanish colonial empire, while hundreds of British merchants joined Latin American liberal reformers in destroying the colonial commercial system. As Andrés Baeza Ruz recounts, in Chile Lord Thomas Cochrane, the radical Scottish aristocrat, brilliant naval commander, and founder of the Chilean Navy, overshadowed the fighting personnel of British origin. Merchants remained lesser known but were scarcely less active. Navigating Cape Horn or the Strait of Magellan, they sailed cargoes of textiles, ceramics, and hardware into Chile and took silver, when they could obtain it, back to Europe. Several noted British travel writers, pioneering miners, and engineers explored the high Andes in vain pursuit of a Chilean El Dorado.

In Chile, the British presence remained primarily maritime, naval, and mercantile, although from...

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