William Warren Sweet.

A history of Latin America online

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long Ix^ore they did. Yet still more strange to the N<Hih
American is the fact that the immediate causes of the revolu-
tions in South America did not grow out of the evil and despotic
government which was imposed upon than. Mr. Bryce says it
was Napoleon who brou^t about South American independ-
ence. The general causes of dissaffection, however, did grow
out oi conditions which had long existed, and with which we
are ah-eady familiar.


The Spanish colonist was supposed to enjoy the same con-
stitutional rights as a citizen of Spain, but in many instances
this was far from the fact. The government, at best, was
extremely despotic, but when a despotic government is carried
on by inefficient officials the despotism becomes unbearable,
and this was the case in the Spanish colonies. The Inquisition

^ ^ , . which was established in the colonies was an

spuiidi Coioniid institution hated by everyone. Its income

Oo?«nimeot a Cwife depended upon the number of confiscations
made, and very naturally, under these con-
ditions, grave injustices were often perpetrated. So grave was
the condition of things in 1780, due to general bad government,
that serious revolts were threatened. We have already noticed
the famous revolt of Tupac Amaru, which we remember grew



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out of the corrupt govemmenty especially of the corregidores.
In the next year, 1781, serious trouble also threatened m New
Granada. Here the revolutionists soon had more than fifteen
thousand men under arms and marched against Bogota, crying,
*Tiong live the king, but death to bad governors/' Three years
later two agents of these revolutionists visited England in the
hope of getting arms and other support.

These revolts, coming at the same time as the successful
uprising of the English colonies in North America, made the
Spanish government very apprehensive, and an attempt was
made at governmental reform, though what was done in this
direction proved inefiFectual. Spain delayed ^ving help to the
revolting English colonies, although urged to do so by her ally
France, because she feared the effect upon her own colonies.
When she did give aid to the American colonies, in 1779, she
was at the same time trying to keep out liberal ideas from her
own colonies by instituting a crusade against suspected books,
more rigidly restricting education, and by greatly increasing
political imprisonments.

Added to the bad government of the Spanish colonies were
her exasperating economic policies. It is taiie that after 1778
a more liberal policy was instituted, but even after this at-
satda^ Bad Bcooomie *^°^P*®^ cconomic reform a large proportion
PoHdet, Another of the c(Hnmercial transactions of the colonies
?TJJ^JJ^ ^ were still illegal. We have abready given an
account of the way S^ain exploited her col-
onies, through taxation of all kinds, through the granting of
monopolies, the selling of offices, and through the exactions of a
corrupt clergy. All these causes contributed to the general
disaffection. There was also a growing jealousy, ahready of
long standing, between the Spaniards of European birth and
the Creoles. Practically all the officers appointed by the king
were Spaniards, while the Creoles had little part in directing
the affairs of either chiu*ch or state. Down to the year 1810
jMioa«7 Between tiicre Were 160 viceroys, and 588 captain-
soiopean-Bom generals, governors, and presidents of audi-

Sfftokids end Craolee ^^^^g^ g^^ q^^ Qf fj^ ]BTg^ number of officials

only eighteen had been natives of the colonies. This becomes


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very significant when we come to study the revolutions them-
selves, for evay great outstanding revolutionaiy leader was a


Immediats Causes of the Revolxttionb

Among the immediate causes of the Latin American wars for
independence may be given the successful Revoluti(Hi of Eng-
land's colonies in America. The chief connecting link between
the two revolutions was Francisco Miranda. Miranda was a
native of Caracas, bom in 1756. He came to the West Indies,
Tht Ameriam r«td- ^ ®^ officer in a Spanish expedition, in 1781,
took part in a campaign against Pensacola,
Florida, and in 1783 visited a number ol
American cities. His expmence m North Am^ica led him to
the belief that Spanish America could achieve a like inde-
pendence, and henceforth he devoted his life to the carrying
out of this thou^t. In spite of all precautions which ihe
Spanish government took to keep out liberal ideas, during and
following the Amancan revolution, nevertheless doctrines of
freedom began to find their way into the very center of
Spanish pow^ m Amarica. Among those who were {n-eaching
Libeniidawiiiid theso new doctrines were the Bishop <rf
TiMir Way Into Arequipa and the rector of the College of

SpftnithAiiiefiGtt gj^ Carlos. Many of the clergy likewise

joined in this movement and secret societies and clubs were
formed where liberal ideas were discussed and plans laid to
convert others to their cause. As a whole, however, the
Spanish colonies were loyal to the Spanish crown up to the
very close of the ei^teenth century.

A more important cause of the decline of Spanish power in
America was the long conunercial struggle betwe^i England
and Spain which culminated in the early years of the nine-
teenth century. The struggle began in the latter quarter of
TbtSnfiiih ^® sixteenth century when Hawkins and

Commerdai latrntte Drake led a long line of buccaneers to prey
in sonni Amaika ^^^ ^j^^ Spanish treasure fleets. In the
middle of the seventeenth century the English captured Jar
maica, after which they proceeded to take over a number of
the smaller West Indies. Spain had been little interested in


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the small islands and they were left unoccupied and unclaimed
until the Dutch, English, and Prench took them over. With
these islands as a center, English activities off the coasts of
Spanish America greatly increased, and all during the seven-
teenth and eighteenth centuries they became a greater and
greater menace to the Spanish dominions.

At the close of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-
1713) England gained the contract to supply the Spanish Indies
with slaves and also a limited right to trade with the Spanish
colonies. This was the first lawful breach in the Spanish trade
monopoly, and with this as an entmng wedge the English
Bactanduuispdniii g^e&ily increased their activities. In 1739
liieSmntoeBih and England and Spain were again at war and
Btbtotntii ceotaziee ^j^^ English attempted to conquer the island
of Cuba. Again m the Seven Years' War (176ft-«3) Spain and
England renewed the struggle and the British occupied Habana
and Manila, while English merchants were busy suppl3dng the
Spanish colonists with duty-free merchandise. In 1779 Spam
joined her ally Prance with the American colonies of England
agamst her old »iany, and this time Spain regained Plorida,
which England had taken from her in 1763. Again during the
Napoleon wars England and Spain once more stood face to
face as enemies. Again England proceeded to attack Spain's
possessions and to confiscate and capture Spanish ships.

As a part of England's campaign against Prance there was
dispatched in the spring of 1806 an expedition of sixteen him-
dr^ men against Buenos Ayres, for Spain had made an alliance
with Napoleon in 1795. The commander of this expedition
had the year previous taken Cape Colony, in South Africa,
from the Dutch. The English landed without opposition and
marched toward Buenos A3rres, the Spanish viceroy fledng to
Cordoba. On taking the city the English commander declared
himself governor. Por years the English had been desirous of
gaining a foothold in South America, and this seemed the
opportunity th^ had long hoped for. At
^^ijrl^zM* ^^ ^® people of Buenos Ajrres acquiesced
in the British occupation, and Beresford, the
English commander, exacted from all the officials, without


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difficulty, an oath ci all^iance to the British crown. Within
a few weeks, however, the English were overpowered by the
townspe(^le of Buenos Ayres, aided by a force which had been
organized by a French naval officer, liniers, in the employ of
the Spanish at Montevideo. There was some hard fighting in
the streets of Buenos Ayres, but the English were compelled to
surrender, and Liniers, now a popular idol, was appointed
viceroy. This victory, which the people of Buenos Ayres had
achieved without help from Spidn, greatly aroused then* national
and race pride.

A few months after these occurrences another and more for-
midable British expedition, consisting of four thousand men
under General Whitelocke, made an attack upon the La Plata.
The English landed this time in Uruguay, and took Montevideo
by assault. With Montevideo as a base, the English now made
an attack upon Buenos Ayres. The Arg^tines met the Ekig-
lish outside the city, but after some severe fighting th^ were
compelled to retire, the English following than into the town.
Th» seeood sngSih '^'^ proved foolish tactics on the part of the
Attack Upon Boenot English, for 88 they marched through the
^^'^ ^^ narrow streets of the Spanish town the na-

tives rained down upon them bom. the housetops stones and
billlets, so that by the time th^ reached the main square
their forces were greatly demoralized. Here the British ¥^ere
met by the Argentines, drawn up behind breastwwks. For
two days the fighting raged, but finally the British were com-
pelled to ask for terms. Again the people of Argentina had
defended themselves successfully. They had little dreamed of
such military prowess, and now that it was revealed beyond
any doubt, their local pride was greatly stimulated. The
people of Buenos Ayres, while not desiring to be ruled
by the English, were willing to trade with than, and E^-
lish conmierdal interests in the La Plata were greatly stimu-

Previous to the events just described the English had cap-
tured the island of Trinidad, which gave English commercial
interests a base at the mouth of the great river Orinoco. This
also brought Englishmen and English interests very near the


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north coast of South America. This close proximity of the
^ English to the Spanish colonies could not fail

St^SJw*"* to greatly nifluence the Creole element. When
the wars for independence began, the revolu-
tionists found these Englishmen ready with their help and

Of the immediate causes of the South American wars for
mdependence perhaps none are so important as the mfluence
of the Napoleon wars. After conquering Prussia in 1806 and
making peace with Russia in 1807| Napoleon turned his atten-
tion to Portugal and Spain. At this time the king of Spain
was Charles I V, a weak and corrupt monarch,
ol^lmci |pi^ ^ ^^^ ''"^ '^ ^^^ signed a peace with Napo-
leon and a littie later became the active ally
of the French. Napoleon by 1807 had become anxious to add
Spain to his empire and began to lay plans to accomplish that
end. Charles IV and his son, Ferdinand, the heir to the throne,
had quarreled, and Napoleon was called in to settie then: dif-
ferences. Calling these two '^yal clowns'' to Bayonne, just
across the border. Napoleon proceeded to compel them to
abdicate then* throne, and thebr royal rights were then assumed
by the wily arbiter (May, 1808). Spain was thereupon given
to the brother of Bonaparte, Joseph, who at once surrendered
his kingdom of Naples to beccnne the successcn* of the Bourbons
upon the throne of Spam.

>- When Joseph Bonaparte was proclaimed king in the Latin-
American capitals the colonists refused to recognize the usurper,
and eveiywhere the news was received with cries of "Viva
Fernando Septimo.'' One of the first acts of Joseph Bonaparte
as Ipng of Spain was to confirm all the governors and other
royal officials in the colonies. This at once cast suspicion upon
The coioniM Rtfnse ^^^^ officials, as being agents of the usurping
toRMognizejoMph king. An illustration of the feeling of the
Bonaptfto M King populace at this time is afforded by occur-
r^ices at Caracas. Here a British frigate arrived announcing
an An^o-Spanish alliance against Napoleon, just after a French
vessel arrived with the news of the accession of Joseph Bona-
parte to the Spanish throne. The people received the Englishmen •


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with enthusiasm, while the Spanish govenuH* officially reodved
the French o^dals. What bocurred in Caracas took place in
practically all Latin-American capitals. The people were ev^ry-
^i^io^ opposed to French control in Spain and were everywhere
suspicious of their own local odonial officials, and a condition
<rf uncertainty was thus produced throughout the entire Spanr
ish colonial onpire.

The next scene in this drama, which naturally followed upon
the situati(Hi ahready described, was the overthrow of the
colonial offidab and the setting up ci independent govenn
ments. Thus in August, 1809, the citizens of Quito oiganized
a sovereign jimta, d^)oeed the governor, and assumed the
authority of the government. Similar things had already oo^
otBuiiniioaof j^aiu ®^"™^ ^ Spain, foT jimtas had been oonsti-
kk spdn and Hie tutcd at various Centers, such as Seville and
kMkML^B^!!!^^ Asturias, and a national resistance had been
organized against the French. These oolcmial
juntas did not claim independence ci Spain, nor did the central
junta in Spain intend the destruction of the Spanish monarchy,
but these governments both in the colonies and m Spain pro-
fessed loyalty to Ferdinand VII, the deposed monarch, and
professed to be upholding his royal authority. Thus between
April and July, 1810, ''all over South America the principal
municipalities . • . formed juntas to preserve tibe authority of
Ferdinand.'' The chief juntas thus formed were at Bogota,
Cartagena, Caracas, Santiago de Chile, and Buenos Aj^res.

This was the situation out of which came Latin-Ammcan
independence. These juntas, at first upholding tibe authority
of the deposed king, proclaimed that they were fighting for his
restoration. Thus through several years this strange condition
prevailed, while in the meantime the peapld of Latin America
were getting their first taste of self-government. But ''the
theory of allegiance to a dethroned and captive king, although
sincerely hdd 1^ t^ great majority, could not long survive,"
and in the end, through a perfectly natural evoluticm, the royal
authority decreased. Gradually real revolutionaiy govern-
ments ever3rwh6re came mto existence with the avowed intent
tion of achieving independence of Spanish authority.


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South Ammica on the Eve of Emancipation, by Bernard Moees, oontains
aeveral diapters which throw lig^t upon the causes of the wars.

In Cambridge Modem Hiatory, VoL X, Chapters IX and X, brief sum-
maries of the causes of the wars may be found.

Hiatory oj the South American Bepubliea, by Thomas C. Dawson (G. P.
Putnam's Sons), treats the revohitionary movement separately, noting
the rerohition in each Republic, and in each instance summarising the

For the bearing 6i the European Wars of Napoleon iqxm Latin Amer-
ica, Modem European Hiatory , by Charles Downer Hasen (Heniy Holt ft
Co., 1916), contains an adequate account.

The best summary of the influence of the Ammcan Revolution iq)on
Latin America is Inter-American Aeguaintancee, by C. L. Chandler (2d
Ed., 1917), Chapters I and n.


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The Northebn Movebient

To Venezuela belongs the honor of starting the series of
revolts which culminated in &eemg the colonies ci Central
and South America from the Spanish yoke. Venezuela was an
agricultural colony, and was therefore one of the most ne^ected
of the Spanish possessions. The Spanish officials were few,
and the number of Spanish residents was likewise small. V^e-
zuela was also much exposed to the influence of both England
and i^e United States through trade with
Jamtdcai Trinidad, and Santo Domingo, once
the chief colony of Spain, ''but now emer^g from French
rule into a stormy independence." In 1797 a conspiracy
had been organized at La Guaira, a Venezuelan port, but it
obtained little support and had been quickly overocmie. The
one man chiefly responsible for Venezuela's early revolt
was Francisco Miranda, of whose early career we have
ah-eady spoken. After the close of the American Revolu-
tion he began at once to lay plans for the independence
of his own coimtry. Those early plans, however, came to

From the States he went to England, and there submitted
his plans to the younger Pitt, who at once promised him sup-
port in case of war. From England he now went to France,
where the great Revolution was under way, and i;riien the
Revolutionary army was organized he became an officer. Be-
ifimida Seeks Help coming involved in the party struggles, he
from Bngiuid and fell imder suspiciou, was thrown into prison,
tiie United Steles ^^^ ^^jy escaped through the death of Ro-

bespieire. Again he turned to England and Amaica for aid.
He received encouragement at the time from Rufus King, the
American minister to England, and from Pitt. In 1805 he
sailed for the United States, where Jefferson received himi and



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during a stay of fourteen days at the capital dined twice with
the President. Miranda's hopes of obtaining the help of the
United States were blastedy howeveri when he was finally m-
formed that the Washington government would not official^
aid him.

Immediately on receiving this message Miranda b^aa
preparations for an expedition agamst Caracas. Two vessels
were fitted out in New York and a number of Americans en-
listed. In January the expedition sailed, gomg first to Santo
Domingo, and from there to Venezuela.
ne^BqMkUtioiici ^j^ ^^ q^ Thomas Cochran, an EngUsh

admiral, and two Americans, an attempt was
made on Puerto Cabello, but two of the vessels were taken, a
number of the Americans were captured and later executed by
the Spanish authorities, while Miranda was forced to flee to
Jamaica. A month later another attempt was made to land a
force at Coro, but after a successful landing th^ were agam
forced to withdraw. The population had expressed little in-
terest in these endeavors, for the time was not yet ripe for a
successful revolution.

The influence which finally led the Creoles of Venezuela to
seek independence was the arrival of the French commissioners
announcing the ascension of Joseph Bonaparte to the throne
of Spain. Throughout all of 1809 agitation was carried on by a
group in Caracas, advocating separation, and they even sent to
England seeking help for their cause. Finally, on April 19,
1810, an independent jimta was formed at Caracas, ''to pre-
Tbe iiMiiiwmffflt ^^^^ ^® rights of Ferdinand VII," and the
jatte of cuacM» Spanish officiate were compelled to resign.
Amfl 19, i8io Some of the provinces, however, refused to

submit to this self-constituted government, the provinces of
Coro and Maracaibo especially. Outside, however, of these
royalist provinces the Jimta was eversrwhere recognized, and
in April, 1811, the Cabildos of the various towns were requested
to elect members to a Congress. On July 5 this Congress
assembled, and a Declaration of Independence was adopted,
declaring the seven eastern provinces free and indepaident
states. Miranda, who had returned from Europe, was given


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the military command of the new republic. Several royalist
revolts occurred, one at Caracas, headed l^ the clergy, and
another at Valencia, both of which Miranda sucoessfuUy put
down. The most serious menace came from the royalist i»ov-
ince ci Coro, whence a force imder Monteverde, an able Span-
ish commander, was advancing upon Caracas.

In the midst ci this impending danger to the new republic a
terrible earthquake destroyed Caracas and killed over twenty
thousand people in tibe revolting i»ovinoes, winld twelve thou-
sand persons lost their lives in the capital alone. The clergy
immediately took advantage ci this disaster and began to
preach divine judgment to the terrified people, with the result
TiMGfMitBftrtiivMk* that thousands deserted the patriot cause and
^xSxa and tte ^^^4 ^^ct to the royalists. Monteverde, the

DMth oi icnada, pojralist Commander, met little oi^xxsition as
'^'^ he advanced upon Caracas, and in July, 1812,

Miranda signed a capitulaticHi, securing free departure for the
patriot leaders. Bolivar, a prominent leader of the Creole
party, in charge ci the fortress of Pu^to CabeUo, abandoned
his o(»mnand, and proceeded to Caracas, wheire he and several
other officers threw Miranda into prison. Here Mu*anda was
f oimd by the Spanish commander when he took the city. Bolivar
and the other officers were permitted to return to their estates,
but Miranda, was kept in prison, finally being removed to
Spain, where he was taken from prison to prison, imtil his
death, m 1816.

Simon Bolivar, who had been associated with Miranda, was
a Creole, bom at Caracas in 1783, and at an eariy age fell heir
to large estates in Venezuela. He received his education in
Europe, i^^endmg much time at Madrid, and traveling in
Europe. He found himself in Paris during the closing scenes
of the Revolution, and there imbibed some of the Revolutionary
doctrines. He had returned to Venezuela in 1809, '^a childless
widower €i twenty-six,'' and at once threw in his lot with the
Revolutionary party, then just bq^mning operations. On re-
siflunBoiim tumiug to South America from Europe he

had spent some time in the United States,
where he had observed for the first time the successful workings


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of free institutions. After the fall of the first Venesudan
republic Bolivar retired to his estatesi but not for long. He
had det^mmed to devote his life and fortune to the winning
of Venezuelan independence, and from that time he became
the ''chief inspiration of the movement and ultimately the
liberator of five extensive republics." He was not a leader to
inspire confidence by his personal ai^>earanoe, for he had a
small and pimy body, and was of unattractive face and figure.
He was also vain and immoral, two typical Chreole traits.

After the overthrow of the first Venezuelan republic in 1812,
Bolivar went to Cartagena, where he offered his sword to the
Junta of that dty, for New Granada had declared also for
complete indq>endenoe. Given a small force, he began operar
tions on the Magdalena river, which he conducted with both
skill and success. He now succeeded in raising a considerable
fOTce of New Granadians, and, marching eastward, proceeded
to crush the royalist forces in Venezuela. Within fifty days
he had cleared the two western provinces, and within tturteen
Th« SMood B«pabio iiionths lifter Miranda's surr^ider he reen-
oc VMMiMk, and tte tcrcd Csracas at the head of his victorious
cmpaign fd 1814 forces. A sccond Venezuelan republic came
into existence, with Bolivar at its head, mih the title of ''Lib-
erator.'' MeanT^iile new forces were collecting, which were
soon to crush this second republic. Boves, a Spanish sergeant,
dismissed from the Spanish army for misconduct, had gone
among the warlike Indians of the plains and had succeeded in
organizing in the name of the king a force of four thousand
Indian horsemen, and was makmg his way toward the capital.
In June, 1814, Bolivar met these forces, and at La Puerta suf-
fered a disastrous defeat. Killing his prisoners, Bolivar de-
serted Caracas, and fled with a band of revolutionists. Cross-
ing the mountains, he once more offered his services to New

Bolivar came to New Granada at an opportune moment, for
after five years of stormy independence the country was reduced
to a state of civil war, due to the rivalries and jealousies of
the various Jimtas. Both Bogota and Cartagena had set up
govemm^tSy independent of the Congress, and Bolivar pro-


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ceeded to reduce these independent centers. Meanwhile a new

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Online LibraryWilliam Warren SweetA history of Latin America → online text (page 13 of 27)