O'Higgins, Bernardo (bĕrnärˈħō ōēˈgēns) [key], 1778–1842, South American revolutionary and ruler (1817–23) of Chile; illegitimate son of Ambrosio O'Higgins. He was chosen in 1813 to replace José Miguel Carrera as revolutionary leader. After the loss at Rancagua, O'Higgins fled with the remnant of his army to Argentina, where he joined forces with San Martín. Returning to Chile in 1817, San Martín and O'Higgins defeated the Spaniards at Chacabuco. O'Higgins was named supreme director of Chile, whose independence he proclaimed on Feb. 12, 1818. His financial, political, and social reforms aroused much opposition, and in 1823 he was deposed and exiled to Peru, where he remained until his death.
See biographies by J. Kinsbruner (1968) and S. Clissold (1969).