He was born in Constitucion on July 15th of 1844, he was the son of the Scottish sailor Henry Mac-Iver and the Chilean Leonor Rodriguez. He learned his first subjects in his home until he initiated his studies in the Padres Franceses school in Valparaiso. Later, he had to abandon his studies to continue them later, in the Padres Franceses school of Santiago.
His did his higher education in the Universidad de Chile, where he study Law, and where he stood out for being a brilliant student. He received his lawyer degree in 1869. He joined the Radical party, where he had Manuel Antonio Matta as his mentor. He was the president of the Banco Nacional (National Bank) until he was chosen a deputy for his city of birth in 1876, position in which he remained consecutively until 1918 (representing other zones such as Talca, Copiapo, Santiago, Ñuble and Atacama).
Between 1881 and 1884, Mac-Iver was the defender of the Chilean government before the arbitral tribunals which were constituted with the purpose of resolving foreign claims and acts of force during the Pacific war.
In 1891, he participated in the revolution which defeated president Jose Manuel Balmaceda. Alter that, he was chosen as a deputy for Santiago. The following year, he was named as Finance minister by Jorge Montt.
He participated as a delegate for Chile at the International Conferences in Buenos Aires (1998) regarding the border conflict at the Puna de Atacama.
Parallel to his political work, Mac-Iver developed an important career as a scholar of his country’s national reality. His most famous work in this regard was his speech from 1890 called the Moral Crisis of the Republic.
Likewise, he worked as an political editor for several Santiago newspapers, like El Progreso (The Progress) and El Heraldo (The Herald).
He passed away in Santiago on August 21st, 1922.