The German-speaking population of the south central provinces of Chile has aroused both national pride on account of its economic vigor, and concern because of its persistence as a foreign enclave. Its origin dates back to the middle decades of the nineteenth century (1849-74) when the Chilean government actively recruited some 4,000 Germans,1 mostly village artisans and agriculturalists, to immigrate and colonize the then nearly unoccupied backwater provinces of Valdivia and Chiloé.2 That the government was attracted to the idea of German immigration, then unprecedented in Chile,3 was due mainly to the vision and perseverance of a young German merchant-marine officer, a foreigner utterly without political influence or social connections when first he came to Chile. This same man was responsible for the actual recruiting of many of the immigrants in Germany. Though he ranks with Hermann Blumenau as one of the prime movers of German colonization in South America,4 to date his work is little known outside Chile's German community.

Bernhard Eunom Philippi was born on September 19, 1811, in Charlottenburg bei Berlin, the second of two sons. His father, a civil servant in the Chamber of Accounts in Berlin, was originally from Westphalia, where the paternal grandfather had been a small freeholder. His mother was a daughter of the secretary of the Hannover Consistory. The brothers Philippi thus came from a modest bureaucratic-bourgeois background.5

The mother, ambitious for her two boys, took them to Iverdon, Switzerland, so that they could have their primary schooling at the Pestalozzi Institute. After four years (1818-1822) mother and boys returned to Berlin, where Bernhard, since he did not show his brother Rudolf’s liking for the classics, attended a Realschule.6 Upon completing his education he first thought of following a career in the Prussian army corps of engineers, but after he failed the entrance exam he decided for the merchant marine. At the age of nineteen he shipped as cabin boy on the royal Prussian merchantman Prinzess Louise, destined for a voyage around the world to make commercial contacts for Prussian industrial products.7

On board was a Dr. Meyen, who had been commissioned by the Natural History Museum of Berlin to collect specimens of flora and fauna wherever the Prinzess Louise touched. In early 1831 the ship called at several Chilean and Peruvian ports, and Meyen would make excursions into the surrounding countryside to collect his specimens. Sometimes Meyen asked Philippi to go along, giving him experience that was to serve him well later.8

After his return to Hamburg (April 1832), Philippi studied navigation, passed his exams, and sailed on voyages to the Baltic, the United States, and the Caribbean. Then in 1837 he shipped again on the Prinzess Louise, this time as third navigator. The ship was about to repeat her voyage around the world, and again the Natural History Museum commissioned one Carl Szegeth, M.D., to collect specimens. According to Rudolf Philippi, Szegeth changed the course of Bernardo’s life by proposing that the two of them stay in Valparaíso and form a partnership to collect and sell natural history specimens to European museums. Philippi accepted Szegeth’s proposal. He found a suitable replacement for himself, and along with Szegeth left the Prinzess Louise.9

The partnership did not last long, however, because Szegeth soon began to devote most of his time to the practice of medicine and the social life of Valparaiso. Since Philippi was doing all the work, he decided to break with Szegeth and continue on his own. He went to Peru, where he reaped a “splendid harvest” of parrots along with a sudden and violent illness. The doctors prescribed an immediate change of climate to restore his health, and particularly recommended Chiloé. Philippi went; it was his first acquaintance with the Chilean south.10

Improved in health and restless as always, he took advantage of his sojourn in Chiloé to make an extended excursion by open boat along the eastern coast of the Grand Island down to the Chonos Archipelago. This trip opened his eyes to the great potential but sparse population of the southernmost Chilean province. It was apparently at this time that he first conceived the idea of directing the mounting emigration of German villagers toward this temperate underdeveloped region. Here their agricultural and industrial capabilities could readily be put to use without any significant competition either from other settlers or from the indigenous population—quite the contrary of the situation in the United States. Such was to be Philippi’s principal argument for German immigration and colonization in the south of Chile.11

Upon his return to Germany in the spring of 1840, he began the promotion effort which became his life’s vocation. At that time German liberals were beginning to call for the establishment of a colony or colonies where German immigrants could go without sacrificing their language and culture, even if they had to renounce their German political allegiance.12 One of the early adherents of this idea, the Göttingen geography professor Johann Eduard Wappäus, was so impressed by Philippi’s account of the possibilities of southern Chile that he promptly wrote a newspaper article advocating that region as a proper place for establishing a German national colony.13

Philippi, meanwhile, had negotiated a two-year contract with the Prussian government, under which he was to continue collecting Chilean natural history specimens for the museum in Berlin.14 He sailed to Chile for the third time in 1841. After a short stay in Santiago, he was in Valdivia by September. In a letter to his brother, written at Arique in Valdivia province (November 1841),15 he said that he had already made an excursion to Osorno in order to orient himself, and that he further intended to explore the whole heavily forested, virtually unoccupied wilderness region between Osorno and Calbuco.16

Ostensibly Philippi was in southern Chile as a naturalist and geographer; indeed, his above-mentioned letter was read to the Berlin Geographical Society. That society also received a report on his explorations around Calbuco in the early months of 1842, especially his expedition to “rediscover” the vaguely known Lake Llanquihue in January-February 1842.17 But we can surmise from his subsequent activities that furthering scientific knowledge was not his only reason for returning to Southern Chile.

The onset of the rainy Valdivian winter in May-June 1842 forced Philippi to suspend his exploring18 and gave him the leisure to draw his first map of the region.19 He also submitted to the Chilean government a memorandum describing in detail his explorations and setting forth, for the first time, a colonization scheme. The memorandum evoked favorable comment, but no action, from the Minister of Interior, Ramón Luis Irarrázaval, an advocate of foreign immigration.20

Philippi himself later described the situation, and his own motives, in the following manner:21

Hardly had I come to know the south of this republic when I decided to make my home here. Hoping to be of service both to my new fatherland and to the one of my birth, by bringing skilled craftsmen to this place, where they are so lacking, from Germany, where they are so numerous, I got a memorandum into the hands of the [Chilean] government (with the help of the Intendant of Valdivia at that time, Colonel García) concerning a military colony on the border.22

Although Minister Irarrázaval at first gave the favorable reply of September 22, 1842 (No. 150), nothing further happened. On the basis of his answer I made efforts in favor of my proposal in Germany, by writing a short essay: “Concerning the Advantages which Southern Chile offers to German Emigrants.”

This essay was Philippi’s first attempt in writing to call German attention to southern Chile as an ideal immigration area.23

The advantages Philippi pointed to were precisely those he saw in Chiloé back in 1839, namely economic underdevelopment, sparse population, and the consequent lack of competition. He aptly remarked that although lumber was the only cash export of the region, and was in great demand on the treeless west coast of South America, there existed only one sawmill in all the southern provinces, and that mill was owned by a Yankee Quaker.24 With such an abundance of timber, shipbuilding beckoned, while commercial agriculture and its related food-processing industries had yet to be introduced. Furthermore, and this was his primary argument, there was plenty of cheap empty land.25

Pending further action from the government, Philippi continued his exploration of the region, and in late summer (February-March) 1843 he succeeded in pushing through from Calbuco to Osorno via Melipulli26 and Lake Llanquihue—something he had tried but failed to do the previous year.27 His explorations, however, were cut short at this time because he ran out of money. When the first year of his contract with the Prussian government was up (September 1842), he had applied to the Prussian consul in Valparaiso for remittance of the stipend for the second year. The consul, who alleged lack of instructions, refused to send money, leaving Philippi in desperate financial straits.28

But he was not utterly without hope. His was the kind of outgoing, buoyant, and adventuresome personality that made friends easily, and in Valdivia and Chiloé he had already made a number of important connections. Among them was the Intendant of Chiloé, Domingo Espiñeira, whom Philippi probably knew from his first visit to Chiloé back in 1839.29 The preparations for the expedition which was to take possession of the Strait of Magellan had been charged to Espiñeira.30 Just as the expedition was about to sail (May 1843), Espiñeira permitted Philippi to join as a volunteer, thus solving his financial dilemma for the time being.

Philippi contributed to the success of the expedition at three important junctures.31 The first came when the schooner Ancud32 chanced upon two North American whalers hunting seals among the Guaitecas Islands. One of the whalers was equipped with new nautical charts made by recent English survey expeditions. The Yankee captain at first refused to show the charts to the Chileans, but Philippi soon made friends with him, and thereafter was permitted to copy them. Needless to say, these charts greatly expedited matters for the Chileans.33

Then as the Ancud proceeded south and attempted to beat around the Peninsula of Taitao, she ran into a gale which tore off her rudder and stove in her starboard gunwale. It was necessary to stop for repairs and, as most of the ship’s provisions had been soaked through and ruined, someone had to go back to Ancud (Chiloé) for fresh supplies. Philippi volunteered. With a small party in a lifeboat, he successfully reached his goal, and returned to the schooner with a launch full of new provisions.34

The voyage then proceeded without further mishap, and on September 21, 1843, the Chilean commander took possession of the Strait and surrounding territory for the Republic of Chile. The next day a French man-of-war appeared and dropped anchor near the Chileans; the French went ashore and unfurled their own flag.35 To the Chileans’ protest the French commander replied that he was not aware that the Strait was Chilean territory, and without instructions from his government he could not recognize Chile’s claim. The Chileans insisted and prepared for the worst, but the French reconsidered and sailed away.36

The interpreter in this international dialogue was none other than Bernardo Philippi, who as a schoolboy at the Pestalozzi Institute had learned fluent French.37 His firm but diplomatic defense of Chilean rights brought him immediately to the attention of the national government. This was his supreme moment in the public eye. In Santiago he reported directly to President Bulnes, who in reward for his services appointed him captain in the army corps of engineers, and simultaneously made him governor and military commander of the newly founded settlement on the Strait.38

But just when a career was assured him in the Chilean army, Philippi after a few months asked to be relieved of his appointment as governor and military commander of Magallanes, and also resigned his commission in the army.39 The reason was undoubtedly his single-minded devotion to the idea of German colonization in the Chilean south. He had become a man with an idée -fixe. He himself later explained that he accepted the governorship in the belief that something could be done for immigration, but found the circumstances so unfavorable that he asked for his dismissal.40

The “unfavorable circumstances” to which he referred were probably related in some way to a second colonization scheme which he had presented to the government early in February 1844. The scheme had two parts; first he requested a tract of land for colonization on the shores of Lake Llanquihue, at the mouth of the River Maullín (the lake’s outlet), and second a concession which would allow him to make the Maullín navigable at his own expense, in return for the right to collect a transit tax on all persons and goods using the river. His old friend, Domingo Espiñeira, sent a memorandum to the government in support of the scheme (the site was in the province of Chiloé and therefore in Espiñeira’s jurisdiction).41 But even though the government was interested in immigration and colonization, it gave Philippi a negative answer on the grounds that such a useful project as making the Maullín navigable ought to be undertaken by the state.42

By this time, however, Philippi had already turned to private capital. Sometime during the first half of 1844, while he was in Santiago,43 he formed a partnership with a German merchant of Valparaíso whom he had won over to his idea. The merchant, one Ferdinand Flindt,44 was the selfsame Prussian consul who “for lack of instructions” had declined to pay Philippi the stipend due him for the second year of his contract. Philippi was not the loser in the long run, however, because apparently his contact with Flindt as Prussian consul gave him the opportunity to set forth his ideas on German colonization.45

Since Philippi had little money of his own, it was probably with Flindt’s financial backing that he proposed to make the Maullín navigable “at his own expense.” This financial backing was a breakthrough for Philippi, and it very likely had as much to do with his leaving the service of the Chilean government as did his ill success in getting the government to accept his colonization scheme. His partnership with Flindt relieved him of the need for army pay, and his resignation of the governorship of Magallanes was a foregone conclusion as soon as he had found a means to carry out his colonization idea in Valdivia and Chiloé.

At any rate, once provided with capital he returned to Valdivia in the middle of 1844 to purchase private land upon which German immigrants could be settled. He bought several properties situated on the south bank of the Río Bueno opposite the town of Trumao in the department of Osorno, and then sent a letter to his brother in Kassel requesting him to recruit some ten or twelve families of village artisans and agriculturalists for immigration to Valdivia and settlement on the lands of “Flindt & Philippi.” One of Flindt’s ships was to call at Hamburg the following year (1846), and the immigrants could return with it to Chile.46 Thus began the first successful immigration enterprise in Chile.

Philippi’s brother Rudolf, with the help of a friend in Rotenburg, Hesse-Kassel (Kurhessen), managed to contract nine families from around Rotenburg for immigration to Chile. These nine families, 36 persons in all, became the vanguard of the whole subsequent German immigration to Chile. They sailed from Hamburg on April 19, 1846.47

Upon arrival in Valdivia they learned that Flindt had just gone bankrupt,48 but happily the whole enterprise was saved by another German entrepreneur, resident in Valparaíso since 1836, whom Philippi had also won over to supporting German colonization. This merchant, Franz Kindermann,49 bought up Flindt’s properties in Valdivia and accepted the contracts made with the nine emigrant families in Rotenburg. Upon their arrival, therefore, there was only a momentary flurry of apprehension over the bankruptcy, and then the new immigrants set to work at their respective trades on what had now become Kinderman’s hacienda.50

The demand for the immigrants’ skills on the part of other local hacendados more than confirmed Philippi’s belief that German artisans and agriculturalists could find a ready market in backward Valdivia. Before a year was out two of the nine family fathers had written home to their relatives in Rotenburg, giving a decidedly favorable report of their life in southern Chile. The letters were later published by Philippi in Germany.51 Their efficacy in bringing more immigrants to Valdivia can be seen not only in the testimony of Rudolf Philippi, but also in the fact that a large number of subsequent immigrants were from the neighborhood of Rotenburg.52

Flindt’s bankruptcy and Kinderman's takeover occurred just at the time that the Chilean government passed its first colonization law (November 18, 1845).53 This seemed to indicate a more active interest in colonization on the part of the government. Consequently, Philippi decided to re-enter the Chilean army, hoping to be appointed administrator of a government-sponsored immigrant colony—a hope that was nourished by Philippi’s intimate friendship with the new Intendant of Valdivia, brilliant young Salvador Sanfuentes.54 Sanfuentes had been appointed intendant in March 1845 by his personal friend, Minister of Interior Manuel Montt.55 The new intendant’s instructions were to make a comprehensive survey of the province of Valdivia in order to ascertain its potentialities for immigration and colonization.56 He carried out his survey in the company of a newly named provincial engineer, none other than Bernardo Philippi.

In a note to Montt Sanfuentes had requested the employment of a full-time engineer who would not only accompany him on his survey, but also execute various improvements necessary for the development of the province.57 He recommended Philippi for the post because his qualifications were already known to the government and because, as a resident of Valdivia and an enthusiast for its future progress, he would be content with a modest salary. Added to this were his connections in Germany, the country Sanfuentes considered probably the best source of immigrants.58 Thus Philippi received the appointment, and accompanied Sanfuentes on his personal inspection of the province during the first months of 1846. This survey led to Sanfuentes’ very detailed and comprehensive reports on the state of Valdivia in 1846,59 and to Philippi’s second map of Valdivia and Llanquihue.60 It was also a step toward Philippi’s eventual appointment as the official colonization agent of the Chilean government in Germany.

It was with Sanfuentes’ help that Philippi regained his commission as a captain in the corps of engineers (April 1846),61 and while the two men were together, Philippi apparently convinced Sanfuentes of the advisability of establishing homogeneous national immigrant colonies on the empty fiscal lands of Valdivia and Llanquihue.62 Shortly after Sanfuentes’ return to Santiago as cabinet minister, Philippi was named President Bulnes’ honorary aide-de-camp for immigration affairs (February 1847), and was raised to the rank of sergeant-major in the engineer corps.63

It was not, however, until the news of the outbreak of the 1848 revolutions reached Chile that the ever cautious Chilean government was moved to send Philippi to Germany as an official agent. The hope was, of course, that many good citizens displaced by the revolutions would be willing to emigrate to Chile. Philippi received his appointment in July 1848, and left for Germany shortly afterwards.64

During his three-year residence there, from late 1848 to early 1852,65 Philippi devoted all his energies to the recruiting of emigrants for Valdivia and Llanquihue. His field of operation was initially restricted by detailed instructions as to whom he should endeavor to recruit. Though later modified, they give a good idea of what both Philippi and the Chilean government had in mind.66 Philippi was to gather some 180-200 families of German Catholics to be transported to Chile at their own expense (but with a government loan if need be), and settled in the entirely uninhabited region around Lake Llanquihue.67 The projected colony was to be an isolated, homogeneous settlement served by German priests, German schoolteachers, and a German physician, all under the direction of German-born Bernardo Philippi. The colonists were promised maintenance for one year, and were to be provided with the necessary seeds and tools to get started, but these expenditures on the part of the government had eventually to be repaid, as provided by the colonization law of 1845. instructions, issued over the signature of Philippi’s friend Sanfuentes,68 were essentially an outline for a foreign agricultural colony on Chilean soil. They were a nearly perfect reflection of the dreams of Philippi and the German national colonizers.

Even though a colony of only 200 families could not constitute a New Germany, it could form a nucleus around which future German immigrants could gather. Hence the importance of the tenth and last rubric of Philippi’s instructions, in which the government authorized him to offer all potential immigrants the promise of cheap land and exemption from taxes for six years, conditional only on settling somewhere in the southern provinces. Thus the Chilean government gave Philippi both an opportunity and active support for founding his purely German colony on the shores of Lake Llanquihue.

The government was persuaded that only European colonists could develop the south. Of all the possible nationalities, Germans were considered most desirable, because their homeland was a weak and divided country without force in international politics. Furthermore, the German ethos of perseverance, industry, and respect for public authority was held to be a particularly good example to the supposedly lazy and prevaricating local population.69

Upon reaching Germany, Philippi went directly to his brother’s house in Kassel, which he made the headquarters of his operations. Then, following his instructions, he addressed himself to the bishops of Paderborn, Trier, Fulda, and Regensburg, asking permission to recruit colonists in their respective sees. Every one of these prelates, however, roundly refused him (Philippi was a Protestant), and even admonished their flocks not to abandon the homeland.70 Such recalcitrance on the part of the Catholic hierarchy severely cramped Philippi’s prospects of gathering his nucleus of Catholic colonists, while the fear of competitive bidding in the purchase of fiscal land held off prospective “free” immigrants, i.e., those who would come freely at their own expense and risk, without government contract.71

Philippi complained of these difficulties in several dispatches to the government in Chile, recommending that the religious restriction be removed and the price of fiscal lands be fixed.72 The government responded favorably to the extent that it instructed him to emphasize, that all foreigners in Chile were constitutionally guaranteed freedom of conscience, although the public practice of non-Catholic cults was forbidden. It also set the price of fiscal lands in the province of Valdivia at from four to six reales the cuadra (4.17 acres), depending on location. With these modifications in his instructions (1850), Philippi finally began to make some headway.73

His instructions, however, were not the only difficulty he had to contend with. He had also to vie with the reputation of the United States, compared to which Chile was an insignificant unknown. The immensely appealing image of the United States as a country with vast tracts of cheap virgin land and free republican institutions was well established in Germany by 1850, so that anybody seeking to direct German emigrants to some other part of the world had to show good reason why.74

In an attempt to do just that, Philippi took to the press to extol “the advantages which southern Chile offers the German emigrant.” He published a number of short notices in various newspapers in northern and western Germany during the years 1850-51,75 and in addition wrote a guide booklet entitled Information about the Province of Valdivia, Especially for Those who Want to Emigrate Thither, which he had printed in Kassel in April 1851.76 This contained a description of the southern provinces of Chile, their geography, population, industry, agriculture, and natural resources, along with a general discussion of the republican institutions of the country and of the excellent prospects it offered for German immigration.77 The relative advantages of the Chilean south and the United States were described by Philippi as follows:78

If we compare Valdivia with the United States, the latter has the following disadvantages. The climate is far less pleasant, the summers are excessively hot, the winters in the northern region are very severe and long lasting. In many places the climate is unhealthy and malaria is very frequent almost everywhere new settlements develop. In the frontier regions, especially in Texas, attacks by the Indians are to be feared, and the price of land, livestock, and labor are far higher. Only with the most strained iron diligence can the German get ahead against the competition of the American, and already in the second generation German customs and language are lost. In Valdivia, on the other hand, the opposite is to be expected; the German immigrant, who is far superior to the Spaniard in knowledge, diligence, and industry, will bring himself far quicker to prosperity and will keep his language, his peculiarities, his customs, and his habits so far as the climate and geography of the country do not require modifications. Finally, Germany will not send so many corrupted citizens and do-nothings to Valdivia as to the United States, because the cost of the passage is too great.

To add force to his words, Philippi supplemented his own description of southern Chile—probably the best contemporary source on that subject—with a number of documents, among which were the letters of two of the 1846 immigrants. Shortly thereafter he published two further booklets consisting solely of letters from earlier immigrants, and reports on the progress of new arrivals.79

The result of all this propaganda was that Philippi managed to induce several hundred Germans to emigrate to Chile. They came from all over Germany and from both the middle and working classes,80 but predominantly they were from northwestern Germany. Also they were mainly Protestant, although a few Catholics did come from West-phalia and Fulda.81 As seen above, the first nine families of German immigrants contracted by Rudolf Philippi back in 1845-46 came from around Rotenburg in Hesse-Kassel, and their letters home greatly aided Philippi in recruiting more emigrants.82 This is a good part of the reason why the Electorate of Hesse-Kassel in general, and the Rotenburg area in particular, became one of the three principal regions contributing German emigrants to Chile.83

All of them, however, were “free” emigrants, i.e., were not contracted to join the projected colony of 200 families on the shores of Lake Llanquihue.84 Rather they struck out for Chile under the tenth rubric of Philippi’s instructions, prepared to pay their own passage and buy land with their own capital. They expected nothing from the Chilean government beyond protection for their fives and property, tolerance for their religious beliefs, and a six-year tax exemption in return for settling on uncleared southern land.

The emigrants of the early 1850s were usually still preindustrial village artisans/agriculturalists or small-town tradesmen whose prime objective in life was economic independence.85 Undoubtedly Philippi’s inability to win them over to the projected government colony lay in the fact that it smacked too much of the thralldom which they and their forefathers had struggled to remain free of.86 As it turned out, the only Catholic colonists Philippi could contract as per his instructions were a band of fourteen nearly penniless Württembergers assembled by a self-seeking adventurer. Since it was not feasible to settle such a small group in the bush around Lake Llanquihue, they were established on mission lands in the interior of the province of Valdivia, near other immigrant settlements.87 Thus the planned colony on Lake Llanquihue did not materialize in Philippi’s lifetime.88

If Philippi failed in this project, however, he more than made up for it by bringing about the emigration of his gifted older brother. Rudolf Philippi, probably the most illustrious of all the German emigrants to Chile, had been professor of natural science and geography at the Polytechnical School in Kassel since 1835. He was sympathetic to the liberal opposition in Kurhessen, and when the revolution broke out there, he became politically active as an aiderman in the municipal government of Kassel. In March 1849 the then ruling liberal ministry appointed him director of the Polytechnical School, but when the conservative reaction came in 1850, he became persona non grata, and felt obliged to leave. In late December 1850 he fled to Göttingen in the neighboring kingdom of Hannover.89 His brother Bernardo (a Chilean citizen) remained in Kassel with Rudolf’s family and property.90

It was at this point, when prospects looked very dismal for Rudolf in Germany, that he naturally felt the influence of his brother’s enthusiasm for Chile. He decided to go there to see what opportunity offered; if nothing else, Bernardo would be glad to have him administer an hacienda he had bought in Valdivia. As it happened, Rudolf arrived at Valdivia in January 1852, just a few months before his brother’s return.91 His subsequent involvement with German colonization and his very illustrious career at the University of Chile are not of concern here. Suflice it to say that upon Bernardo’s death in 1852, Rudolf Philippi became in large measure his brother’s successor as defender and advocate, especially in the highest circles of the Chilean government, of German colonization in Valdivia and Llanquihue.

Bernardo Philippi was recalled to Chile by instructions dated August 1851, just prior to the termination of the Bulnes administration,92 in order to become director of the colonization of Llanquihue. He arrived in Santiago in April 1852, fully expecting to be put in charge of the settlement of Germans in the south.93 Instead the new Montt administration’s minister of interior, Antonio Varas, reprimanded him severely for sending so many Protestants, and instead of being appointed director of the projected Llanquihue colony he was again named governor of Magallanes, where he was to restore order after the havoc wrought by the Cambiazo mutiny.94

Philippi, believing himself grossly wronged by Varas, vigorously defended his actions in Germany; among other things he pointed out that he had kept the previous administration fully informed and thus had their tacit consent in what he did.95 But Varas was implacable, and Philippi was obliged to accept the governorship of Magallanes. On his way there, he called at Valdivia in order to obtain some German craftsmen; he also saw his brother Rudolf again, for the last time.96 On November 1, 1852, not long after arriving in Magallanes, Philippi’s life was taken by local Indians in revenge for murders committed by Cambiazo.97 Thus the career of this adventuresome and enterprising man ended in the same isolated outpost he had won for Chile nearly a decade before.98

The refusal of Varas and Montt to make Philippi director of the Llanquihue colony proceeded from a politically motivated desire to placate their right-wing support, especially after the political upheaval of 1851. The always latent, but then growing opposition to foreign immigration on the part of the Catholic hierarchy and clerically minded laymen was aroused by the specter of a Protestant German enclave in southern Chile under the direction of Protestant Bernardo Philippi. Far better to let Chilean-born Pérez Rosales continue as commissioner of colonization than to replace him with German-born Philippi.99 From such considerations sprang the course of events leading to Philippi’s death on the Strait of Magellan.

By that time, however, his years of dedication to the idea of establishing a German colony in southern Chile were about to be crowned with success. During the preceding decade he had thoroughly explored the provinces of Valdivia and northern Chiloé—he probably knew the region better than any other person of importance in Chile. Though a foreigner, he had won favor in the highest levels of the Chilean government, including the presidency, by his efforts in behalf of Chilean sovereignty on the Strait of Magellan. Through his friendship with Salvador Sanfuentes he had prevailed upon the Chilean government to sponsor a German immigrant colony, appointing him colonization agent to recruit the immigrants in Germany. He had furthermore won over several German merchants in Valparaíso to enthusiastic support of German colonization in Valdivia and Llanquihue, and had arranged, with their money, to bring to Chile the first nine families of German immigrants to be settled in Valdivia, a successful pilot group. And it was he who had begun the active recruiting of emigrants in Germany. The whole subsequent German immigration to Valdivia and Llanquihue was a direct consequence of the aforementioned accomplishments; hence in a very real sense Bernardo Philippi is the father of German colonization in south-central Chile.100


See George F. W. Young, “German Immigration and Colonization in Chile, 1849-1914” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of History, University of Chicago, 1969).


These two provinces were created by a law of August 30, 1826; the territory of the then still unsubdued Araucanian Indians (La Araucanía) separated them from the rest of Chile. In 1861 the northern mainland portion of the old province of Chiloé became the province of Llanquihue; likewise, the present-day province of Osorno was previously the southern-most department of the old province of Valdivia.


Prior to the 1840s the Chilean government had attempted unsuccessfully to attract Irish, English, and Swiss immigrants; see Diego Barros Arana, Historia jeneral de Chile (Santiago, 1884-1902), XI, 257-258; XIII, 590-591; XIV, 528-530.


Hermann Blumenau was the great German colonizer of Santa Catarina (Brazil); see Fritz Sudhaus, Deutschland und die Auswanderung nach Brasilien im 19. Jahrhundert (Hamburg, 1940), pp. 70 ff.


On the background of the Philippi family see Bernardo Gotschlich, Biografía del Dr. Rodulfo Amando Philippi, 1808-1904 (Santiago, 1904), pp. 4 and 111. Gotschlich was Rudolf Philippi’s private secretary during the last years of his life.


Rudolf Amandeus Philippi, Bernardo Philippi’s older brother, emigrated to Chile in 1851 at Bernardo’s urging, and later became a very distinguished intellectual figure at the University of Chile in the fields of biology and natural history. When he died in Santiago in 1904 he was given a state funeral; see Gotschlich, Biografía . . . , and Diego Barros Arana, El doctor don Rodolfo Amando Philippi: su vida y sus obras (Santiago, 1904). Julio Philippi, Minister of Foreign Relations in the administration of Jorge Alessandri, is his great grandson. (A Realschule is a secondary school with a non-classical curriculum.)


For Philippi’s early years see R. A. Philippi, “Apuntes biográficos sobre mi hermano Bernardo Philippi,” Anales de la Universidad de Chile, June 1901, pp. 970-971, and “Los orígenes de la colonización alemana en Chile,” Boletín de la Academia Chilena de la Historia, 13, No. 35 (1946), 5-6.


R. A. Philippi, “Apuntes biográficos . . . ,” p. 971, and “Los orígenes de la colonización alemana . . . ,” p. 6; see also Franz Julius Ferdinand Meyen, Reise um die Erde (Berlin, 1834-35).


R. A. Philippi, “Apuntes biográficos. . .,” pp. 971-972, and “Los orígenes de la colonización alemana . . .,” p. 6.


R. A. Philippi, “Apuntes biográficos . . . ,” pp. 972-973, and “Los orígenes da la colonización alemana . . .,” pp. 6-7.


E. B. [sic] Philippi, “Nachrichten über den Archipel von Chiloë und die Chonos-Inseln,” Monatsberichte über die Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin, 2. Jahrgang, Nr. 4-6 (August-September-October 1840), 40-48.


On German liberalism and the German national colony idea in the 1840s see Mack Walker, Germany and the Emigration, 1816-1885 (Cambridge, Mass., 1964), ch. III.


R. A. Philippi, “Una rectificación, una aclaración i una agregación,” La Revista de Chile, 4 (15 February 1900), 104.


R. A. Philippi, “Apuntes biográficos . . .,” p. 973, and “Los orígenes de la colonización alemana . . ., p. 8.


E. B. [sic] Philippi, “Nachrichten über die Provinz Valdivia,” Monatsberichte. . ., 4. Jahrgang, Nr. 1-3 (May-June-July 1842), 36-39.


Before the arrival of the German immigrants in and after 1849, the region lying between Osorno, the most southerly settlement of the province of Valdivia, and Calbuco, the most northerly settlement of the province of Chiloé, was an inpenetrable and swampy virgin forest, excessively thick in undergrowth on account of the heavy rainfall. It was virtually uninhabited aboriginally.


O. [sic] Philippi, “Excursion nach dem grossen Landsee Quetrupe, Pata oder Llauquihue [sic],” Monatsberichte . . ., 4. Jahrgang, Nr. 7-9 (November-December-January 1842-43), 190-200.


Georg Schwarzenberg, “Oberstleutnant Bernhard Eunom Philippi: Sein Leben und sein Wirken,” Geschlichtliche Monatsblätter, 1. Jahrgang, Heft 5 (November 1916), 43. This is the best secondary account of B. E. Philippi’s life; it makes thorough use of all documentation available in Chile.


The map is dated Valdivia, July 1842, and almost certainly was drawn to accompany the memorandum Philippi sent to the government; the legends are all in Spanish. It is reproduced in Emil Held, Helmut Schünemann, and Claus von Plate (eds.), 100 Jahre deutsche Siedlung in der Provinz Llanquihue (Santiago, 1952), p. 82; the original is preserved in the Biblioteca Nacional in Santiago.


Very likely Philippi’s colonization scheme was set aside by the Chilean government because an Englishman (Andrew Dow) was just then negotiating with the government to bring 10,000 Catholic immigrants from Europe in return for cession of fiscal lands in the south of the republic upon which to settle them. The lands were precisely the same as those Philippi had his eye on; see Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, Bases del informe presentado al Supremo Gobierno sobre la inmigración estranjera por la comisión especial nombrada con ese objecto (Santiago, 1865), pp. 94, 203-204, and 209.


Quoted in Georg Schwarzenberg, p. 44.


Philippi later (1846) suggested to Salvador Sanfuentes, then intendent of Valdivia, that the pass to Argentina above the Lago Raneo could be closed off on the Chilean side by settling a colony of Swiss on the islands of that lake. The products of the colony could be exported down the Río Bueno to the Pacific, but the colony itself would be far enough from the sea so that the possibility of the maritime powers using it as a ‘base’ against Chile would be non-existant. He suggested Swiss for such a colony because the surroundings of the Lago Raneo were those of an alpine lake; see Miguel Luís Amunátegui, Don Salvador Sanfuentes: apuntes biográficos (Santiago, 1892), p. 243. This is probably what Philippi had in mind when proposing “a military colony on the border.”


Entitled “Ueber die Vortheile, welche das südliche Chile für deutsche Auswanderer darbietet,” the essay was published as an anonymous appendix to the volume edited by Johann Eduard Wappäus, Deutsche Auswanderung und Colonisation (Leipzig, 1846), pp. 113-138.


This Quaker, one Robert Burr, also owned the apparatus for a liquor distillery, one of only two such in the entire province of Chiloé. Burr resided at Dalcahue; see [B. E. Philippi], “Ueber die Vortheile . . . ,” pp. 129-130, and “Nachrichten über den Archipel von Chiloë und die Chonos-Inseln,” p. 42.


[B. E. Philippi], “Ueber die Vortheile . . . ,” pp. 114-115 and 129-130.


The Astillero de Melipulli was a Chilotean lumber station located at the head of the bay of Reloncaví where the city of Puerto Montt now stands. In January 1842 Melipulli had a population of some 200 Chiloteans and consisted of about 27 or 30 huts; see O. [sic] Philippi, “Excursion nach dem grossen Landsee Quetrupe . . .,” p. 193.


Georg Schwarzenberg, pp. 43-44; see also Held et al., p. 18.


R. A. Philippi, “Apuntes biográficos . . .,” p. 974, and “Los orígenes de la colonización alemana . . .,” p. 8.


R. A. Philippi, “Apuntes biográficos . . . ,” p. 973, and “Los orígenes de la colonización alemana . . .,” p. 8.


Exhaustive accounts of the whole history of the expedition are contained in Nicolás Anrique R[eyes], “Diario de la goleta ‘Ancud’,” Anales de la Universidad de Chile, May 1901, pp. 807-877, and June 1901, pp. 932-985; Alfonso Aguirre Humeres, Relaciones históricas de Magallanes: la toma de posesión del estrecho y fundación de una colonia por la República de Chile en 1843 (Santiago, 1943), wherein are reproduced two photographs of Philippi (pp. 143 and 257); Diego Barros Arana, Un decenio de la historia de Chile, 1841-1831 (Santiago, 1905-06), I, 333-341.


R. A. Philippi, “Apuntes biográficos . . . ,” p. 974, and “Los orígenes de la colonización alemana . . . ,” p. 9; see also Barros Arana, El doctor . . . Philippi, pp. 41-42.


The expedition sailed in the schooner Ancud, built expressly for the purpose at San Carlos de Ancud, the capital of the province of Chiloé; see Barros Arana, Un decenio . . . , I, 335.


Ibid., p. 337, and Barros Arana, El doctor . . . Philippi, pp. 41-42; see also Held et al., p. 19.


Ibid., and Barros Arana, Un decenio . . . , I, 337-338.


The French government had apparently intended to take possession of the until then unoccupied strait for France; see Diego Barros Arana, “La fundación de utna colonia chilena en el estrecho de Magallanes en 1843,” Anales de la Universidad de Chile, June 1901, pp. 956-969.


Barros Arana, Un decenio . . . , I, 338-339.


Ibid., pp. 339-340, and Barros Arana, El doctor . . . Philippi, pp. 42-43.


Apparently Philippi had become a Chilean citizen and entered the army corps of engineers at the time he joined the expedition to the Strait (c. May 1843). See Held et al., pp. 18 and 20, and Georg Schwarzenberg, p. 44.


Ibid., p. 46, and Held et al., p. 20.


Georg Schwarzenberg, p. 44.


The memorandum shows Espiñeira strongly favored German colonization in the interior around Lake Llanquihue; he cautioned only that “Chileans should always remain masters of the coast.” See Georg Schwarzenberg, pp. 46-47.


Ibid., p. 46, and Held et al., p. 21.


He remained in Santiago from late 1843 to the middle of 1844; ibid., p. 20.


Flindt was a partner in the Valparaíso merchant house, Canciani & Cía.; see Bea Howe, Child in Chile (London, 1957).


R. A. Philippi, “Apuntes biográficos . . .,” pp. 974-975, and “Los orígenes de la colonización alemana . . .,” p. 9. The partnership was probably formed very shortly after Philippi arrived in Valparaíso en route to Santiago from the Strait. Franz Kindermann, a later participant in the colonization enterprise, wrote that “Flindt provided the money, while Philippi, who had none, contributed the hard work;” see Georg Schwarzenberg, p. 47.


R. A. Philippi, “Apuntes biográficos . . .,” p. 975; “Los orígenes de la colonización alemana . . .,” p. 9; “Una rectificación . . .,” p. 105; and “Zur Gründungsgeschichte der ersten deutschen Kolonien in Chile,” Deutsche Erde, Jahrgang 1903, Heft. 1, 16; see also Georg Schwarzenberg, p. 47.


[Lorenz Hollstein], “Schreiben des Schreiners Lorenz Hollstein aus der Gegend von Rotenburg in Kurhessen an seine Verwandten,” Geschichtliche Monatsblätter, 1. Jahrgang, Heft 3 (August 1916), 75. The immigrants arrived at Corral (Valdivia’s port) August 25, 1846.


The buildings and equipment of “Flindt & Philippi” in Valdivia had been twice destroyed by arson; see Georg Schwarzenberg, p. 47.


Kindermann was born in Kunersdorf, Silesia, and was nearly the same age as Philippi. He came to Valparaíso in 1836 as bursar in a German import/export house; he died in Santiago in 1892. See Südamerikanische Rundschau, 2. Jahrgang, Nr. 4 (July 1894), 45, and 3. Jahrgang, Nr. 2 (May 1895), 19, n. 1.


R. A. Philippi, “Apuntes biográficos . . .,” p. 975, and “Los orígenes de la colonización alemana . . .,” p. 10.


B. E. Philippi, Nachrichten über die Provinz Valdivia (Kassel, 1851), pp. 90-92 and 96.


R. A. Philippi, “Una rectificación . . . ,” p. 105; see also Ingeborg Schwarzenberg, “Hessische Einwanderer, die zwischen 1852-75 nach der Provinz Llanquihue kamen,” Nachrichten der Gesellschaft für Familienkunde in Kurhessen und Waldeck, Jahrgang 1938, pp. 28-34.


This law remained the legal basis for colonization in Chile throughout the rest of the nineteenth century. For a discussion of the developments leading up to its passage, its provisions, and its significance, see Young, “German Immigration and Colonization in Chile,” ch. II.


Sanfuentes, minister of state, educator, and literary light in the 1840s and and 50s, was a scion of a prominent Santiago family; see Amunátegui, Don Salvador Sanfuentes. . ..


Ibid., pp. 184, 190, 201.


Ibid., pp. 348-349. Sanfuentes went to Valdivia at the very time that the bill on colonization of fiscal lands (see above, n. 53) was being debated in Congress.


Ibid., pp. 202-207.


Ibid., p. 206.


Salvador Sanfuentes, “Estadística de la provincia de Valdivia en 1846;” “Memoria sobre el estado de [Valdivia] en 1846;” “Memoria sobre el estado de las misiones en [Valdivia] en 1846;” all in Anales de la Universidad de Chile, September 1862, pp. 210-294.


Philippi drew this map at the request of the government; it was the best and most complete map of Valdivia and northern Chiloé up to that time, superseding Claudio Gay’s map published in Paris in 1846. Philippi’s map was lithographed in Kassel and was included in his propaganda brochure Neuste Nachrichten über die Provinz Valdivia as a fold-out map. According to the legend, it was drawn in October 1846.


Georg Schwarzenberg, p. 49.


In his report to the Minister of Interior Sanfuentes closely followed Philippi’s idea that colonies of foreign immigrants should be homogeneous and isolated. See Amunátegui, Don Salvador Sanfuentes . . ., p. 228, and Sanfuentes, “Memoria sobre el estado de [Valdivia] en 1846,” p. 271.


Barros Arana, El doctor . . . Philippi, pp. 45-47.


Barros Arana, Un decenio . . . , II, 526, and Georg Schwarzenberg, p. 49.


Young, “German Immigration and Colonization in Chile,” ch. IV.


In 1849 similar instructions were given to one Eugene MacNamara, who was to bring some 300-500 Irish families to Chile to be settled in the interior of the department of Osomo; this attempt, however, came to nothing. See Barros Arana, Un decenio . . ., II, 527.


For the text of the instructions see Los alemanes en Chile en su primer centenario, compiled by the Liga Chileno-Alemana (Santiago, 1956), pp. 43-44; or B. E. Philippi, Nachrichten über die Provinz Valdivia, pp. 76-81.


B. E. Philippi, Nachrichten über die Provinz Valdivia, p. 81. In 1848 Sanfuentes was Minister of Justice and ad interim Minister of Interior.


These ideas were common currency in contemporary Chilean thought. See Marcial González, La Europa i la América, o la emigración europea en sus relaciones con el engrandecimiento de las repúblicas americanas (Santiago, July 1848), passim; Ignacio Domeyko, Memoria sobre la colonización en Chile (Santiago, [1850]), pp. 4-5; and Vicuña Mackenna, Bases . . ., p. 43 and passim.


R. A. Philippi, “Una rectificación . . .,” pp. 102 and 105, and “Los orígines de la colonización alemana . . .,” p. 10; see also Barros Arana, Un decenio . . ., II, 528.


Domeyko, pp. 6-7.


Philippi’s propaganda and recruiting activities for the projected German colony on Lake Llanquihue were reviewed by the Frankfurt Parliament. In March 1849 a representative opined that Philippi’s colony was too isolated and lacked assurances of religious and linguistic freedom; consequently, it ought not to be recommended. See Georg Leibbrandt and Fritz Dickmann (eds.), Auswanderungsakten des deutschen Bundestags, 1817-1866, und der Frankfurter Reichsministerien, 1848-49 (Stuttgart, 1932), p. 58.


B. E. Philippi, Nachrichten über die Provinz Valdivia, pp. 82-84.


It can serve as an indication of the popularity of the United States as a destination for German emigrants that of the 2,431 emigrant ships known to have sailed from Hamburg during the years 1850-74, 1,619 of them went to the United States, 174 went to Canada, 39 went to Central America, 329 went to the east coast of South America, 43 went to the west coast of South America, 24 went to South Africa, and 203 went to Australia. See Armin Clasen, “Deutsche Auswanderung nach Chile, 1857-75,” Zeitschrift für Niedersächsische Familienkunde, 34. Jahrgang, Heft 1 (January 1959), p. 1.


Young, “German Immigration and Colonization in Chile,” pp. 102-103.


The title-page reads: Bernhard E. Philippi, Ingenieur-Major in Diensten der Republik Chile und Mitglied mehrerer gelehrten Gesellschaften, Nachrichten über die Provinz Valdivia, besonders für solche, die dorthin auswandern wollen (Kassel: in Kommission bei G. E. Vollman, 1851).


The contents of Philippi’s booklet were typical of the contemporaneous emigrant guides or Ratgeber.


B. E. Philippi, Nachrichten über die Provinz Valdivia, pp. 71-72.


B. E. Philippi (ed.), Neue Nachrichten über die Provinz Valdivia (Kassel: in Kommission bei G. E. Vollman, September 1, 1851); and Neuste Nachrichten über die Provinz Valdivia (Kassel: in Kommission bei G. E. Vollmann, January 1, 1852).


For an analysis of the social composition of the German immigration to Chile see Young, “German Immigration and Colonization in Chile,” appendix.


R. A. Philippi, “Una rectificación . . . ,” p. 103.


Ibid., p. 105.


From the Hamburg shipping lists, which give the birthplaces of all emigrants sailing from Hamburg (and virtually all of Chile’s German immigrants of the period 1849-74 sailed from Hamburg), it can be determined that the emigrants to Chile came overwhelmingly from three areas in Germany, namely Hessen; Lusatia and Silesia; and Württemberg. The contents of these lists, as regards the emigration to Chile, have been printed verbatim by Armin Clasen in Zeitschrift für Niedersächsische Familienkunde: “Deutsche Auswanderung nach Chile, 1850-52,” (March 1957); “Deutsche Auswanderung nach Chile, 1853-56,” (July 1958); and “Deutsche Auswanderung nach Chile, 1857-75,” (January 1959).


Barros Arana, Un decenio ..., II, 529> and Vicente Pérez Rosales, “Informe del Comisario de Colonización al Ministro de Interior,” El Araucano (Santiago), June 5, 1851.


See Walker, Germany and the Emigration, p. 69, and Theodore S. Hamerow, Restoration, Revolution, Reaction: Economics and Politics in Germany, 1815-1871 (Princeton, 1958), chs. VIII and IX. Herman Blumenau characterized the German emigration thus (c. 1845) : “The great majority of emigrants consist of people who pursue agriculture and rural trades, of craftsmen who make the most indispensable and basic essentials of life. The striving of these people, with the former exclusively, with the latter generally, is to acquire a plot of land in order to pursue agriculture either by itself or together with some trade. That the rural artisan pursues some agriculture is very frequent in Germany and is still more common in North America; he who does this, seeks some land to buy and some cattle to put on it. This tendency to rural life and agriculture is characteristic of the Germans, and it differentiates them strongly from the Latin peoples, who appear to prefer to remain in cities.” Quoted from Wappäus, Deutsche Auswanderung und Colonisation, p. 8.


Hamerow, Restoration, Revolution, Reaction . . ., chs. II and III, and Donald G. Rohr, The Origins of Social Liberalism (Chicago, 1963), ch. I.


Barros Arana, Un decenio . . . , II, 529-531, and Pérez Rosales, Recuerdos del pasado, 1814-1860 (Santiago, 1881), ch. XX.


The foundation of the Llanquihue colony was the work of Vicente Pérez Rosales, the government’s commissioner of colonization in Valdivia since November 1850. The first colonists arrived at Melipulli in November 1852, a month after Philippi’s death in Magallanes. For an account of the settlement of Llanquihue, see Pérez Rosales, Recuerdos . . ., ch. V.


Barros Arana, El doctor . . . Philippi, pp. 50-55.


Ibid., pp. 55-56.


Ibid., pp. 60 and 69; see also R. A. Philippi’s description of Chile upon his arrival in 1852: “Valdivia en 1852,” La revista de Chile, IV, Nos. 10-12 (May-June 1901).


Three days before Bulnes left office he raised Philippi to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the army corps of engineers as a reward for his efforts in Germany. See Bernardo Gotschlich, “Vida i obras de don Federico Philippi," Boletín del Museo Nacional de Chile, I, No. 1 (Sección de administración i estadística, 1910), 43.


Barros Arana, El doctor . . . Philippi, p. 75, and B. E. Philippi, Neuste Nachrichten über die Provinz Valdivia, p. [3].


Barros Arana, El doctor . . . Philippi, p. 75, and R. A. Philippi, “Una rectificación . . . ,” p. 103. The Cambiazo mutiny was a direct outgrowth of the revolution of 1851; it was particularly brutal because the Magallanes settlement was a penal colony. An eye-witness account is contained in Charles H. Brown, The Sufferings and Escape of Captain Charles H. Brown from an Awful Imprisonment by Chilean Convicts (Boston, 1855).


Barros Arana, El doctor . . . Philippi, pp. 78-79, and R. A. Philippi, “Una rectificación . . . ,” p. 103.


Barros Arana, El doctor . . . Philippi, pp. 79-80, and R. A. Philippi, “Valdivia en 1852,” p. 357.


Philippi apparently was one of seven Europeans killed by the Indians in revenge for seven Indians murdered by Cambiazo. See Barros Arana, El doctor . . . Philippi, pp. 80-81, and Held et al., pp. 31-33.


The first, rather belated recognition on the part of Chilean historians of Bernardo Philippi’s significance came when Nicolas Anrique Reyes asked Rudolf Philippi and Franz Fonck, the Llanquihue colony physician, to write biographies of Bernardo for inclusion in his compilation Diario de la goleta “Ancud,” published in 1901; Barros Arana, of course, also recognized his contributions and gave him some consideration in his late works El doctor . . . Philippi (1904), and Un decenio . . . (1905-06). In Pedro Pablo Figueroa’s Diccionario biográfico de estranjeros en Chile (Santiago, 1900), however, there is no entry for him, although he is mentioned in the entry for his brother Rudolf (p. 178).


R. A. Philippi, “Apuntes biográficos . . .,” pp. 121-122, and Franz Fonck, “Apuntes para la biografía de Bernardo E. Philippi, Anales de la Universidad de Chile, June 1901, pp. 983-984.


An example of the German-Chilean admiration for Bernardo Philippi as an ethnic hero can be seen in “Bernhard Eunom Philippi," Deutsche Monatshefte für Chile, 12. Jahrgang, Heft 3 (March 1931), 61.

Author notes


The author is Assistant Professor of History at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, N.S., Canada.