The South American insurrection, like all great social upheavals, produced extraordinary men, of whom Simon Bolivar, the idolized hero of the Spanish-Americans, may be reckoned the chief.
Continuing Bolivar and South American Independence,
our selection from Histoire de l’Amerique du sud depuis la conquete fusqu’a nos jours. by Alfred Deberle published in 1876. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in seven easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Bolivar and South American Independence.
Place: South America
The younger members of the upper classes gave great support to the cause of the revolution, since their admirable sentiments of patriotism made them submit to the exigencies of the conscription wherever it was established (as in Venezuela), while it was necessary to take men of the lower ranks to the army by force. The negroes and Indians, brutalized by slavery, allowed themselves to be dragged away as often by those who defended as by those who attacked the insurrection that was to give them their liberty. In various places, and especially in Buenos Aires, some tribes took advantage of the movement to renew their raids, which carried terror and misfortune into many districts. Everywhere the cause of independence suffered alternations — events being sometimes favorable to it and sometimes adverse. If, at that time, Spain had had a man of sufficient practical knowledge to advise her, perhaps it might have been easy to preserve the extensive districts in the rich colonies which still remained loyal to the mother-country, thus allowing them to retain — by means of prudent reforms in their administration—the conquests which had cost them so much to secure.
The South American insurrection, like all great social upheavals, produced extraordinary men, of whom Simon Bolivar, the idolized hero of the Spanish-Americans, may be reckoned the chief. That Titanic struggle for liberty, which was to last for fifteen years, found in him a second Arminius. His country has given him the name of “Liberator,” and one of the States that owe their liberty to him bears his name.
Simon Bolivar was born in Caracas in 1785. He was the youngest of the four children of Juan Vicente Bolivar y Ponte, colonel of the militia of the plains of Aragua, a rich and respected man. An orphan from the age of six, and master to an immense fortune, Simon was sent, while still a youth, to Madrid to finish his education-in the family of his uncle, the Marques de Palacios, and after traveling for some time in Europe, at the age of eighteen he married his cousin, the daughter of the Marques de Toro. He took her back to Caracas with him, but had the misfortune to lose her within five months of their arrival, the victim of a violent attack of yellow fever. After so great and irreparable a loss he returned to Europe, where he remained visiting various capitals until 1809, passing on his return through the United States. During his stay in France he had an opportunity, after the apotheosis of Napoleon, to observe the energy of a whole nation which had freed itself by a supreme effort of its will ; and in the United States, to admire the honored and illustrious Washington.
After his return to his estates in Aragua, the revolution which demanded his services came suddenly upon him, and having been deputed to go to England with Luis Lopez y Mendez to solicit her protection they set out for London, where they were received very coolly, because the English Government, making common cause with the Spanish Cortes against the French domination, could not support a movement contrary to the nation to which they were bound by previous engagements.
Bolivar being obliged to return to America, took with him a small quantity of arms, and General Miranda, an old and valiant soldier, also a native of Caracas, who had always striven to give liberty to his country, and who, being expatriated for his well-known labors in favor of independence, had been going about the world for twenty-five years in search of resources for the cause. Miranda had served with Dumouriez in France, and with Washington in the United States, and weary of hoping, and relying only on his own resources and those of a few friends, had already organized an expedition that had disembarked at Ocumare, and afterward at Coro, but which had had an unfortunate termination from the ill-reception that his compatriots had given him on that occasion. When he joined Bolivar, although at an advanced age, he offered his services to his country with the same faith that he had in his youth, and he was rewarded by being placed at the head of the movement.
In 1812, on Holy Thursday, a terrible earthquake overthrew nine-tenths of the houses in Caracas. The clergy, taking advantage of the terror that such a catastrophe caused among the in habitants, attributed it to the effect of God’s anger, and thus a certain reaction set in favor of the Spanish arms, which caused them to gain some ground. General Monteverde, a man of rough manners and great severity, succeeded in recovering Venezuela at the head of the Royalist troops and obliged Miranda to capitulate, with the promise of an amnesty in favor of the rebels — a promise that was not kept — and the unfortunate general, the victim of the reactionary rule that was established through this feat of arms, was sent by Monteverde to Cadiz, where he died in one of the dungeons in 1816, after having had the grief of seeing Bolivar among his enemies. Monteverde succeeded in spreading terror through those provinces which saw their prisons filled; the horrible instruments of torture laid out every moment, the fields covered with unfortunate wretches cast out of the city after having had their noses, ears, or cheeks cut off, or having suffered other cruel tortures. The cause of independence was then passing through its supreme crisis in Venezuela as well as in Nueva Granada.
The position of the revolutionists in Chile was not much more satisfactory, since the reaction was gaining advantages in Quito while they were waiting for the brave Mariiio, who came, at length, at the head of a new expedition and wrested that country again out of the hands of the Spaniards. By good fortune La Plata was now completely emancipated, and the armies of Artiga and Lopez held the Spaniards in check on the frontiers of Chile and Peru, the cause of Spain being considered completely lost in the last-named State.
We want to take this site to the next level but we need money to do that. Please contribute directly by signing up at https://www.patreon.com/history