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Revista Interamericana de Bibliografía (RIB)
Número: 1
Título: 1998

American Passage

Born and raised in Polish Lithuania in 1802, Domeyko studied science at the University of Vilnius. Domeyko moved to Warsaw after obtaining his degree in 1817. Once in Poland, he continued his studies under the eye of Russian occupation officials. Motivated by his own patriotism and sense of outrage against Russian oppression, the young scholar enlisted in the clandestine movement of Adam Mickiewicz and participated in the 1830 Revolution to restore Polish unity and independence. After the failure of the revolt, Domeyko fled to the West, moving to Dresden and eventually to France. Domeyko found a comfortable niche in the huge Polish expatriate community in Paris, where he completed his studies at the prestigious School of Mines and Metallurgy in 1837.

During his Parisian interlude, the young scientist met a French miner-entrepreneur named Charles Lambert, who was recruiting engineers and technicians for the Chilean government. Lacking such skilled and well-trained manpower, the Chilean government sought to entice them to help develop its budding copper, coal, and silver mining industries. Domeyko joined many promising European and Latin American scholars and scientists, who were lured to the Long Land to facilitate its economic, intellectual, and political development. Through Lambert, Domeyko received a lucrative commission to establish a school of mines and chemistry in the northern town of Coquimbo.6 After establishing his school in Coquimbo, he received further government assignments, including a commission that enabled him to conduct geological surveys of Araucanía, the homeland of the Araucanian Indians.