Today’s installment concludes 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.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of seven thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in Bolivar and South American Independence.
The position of the Republicans was critical and perplexing, and in order to draw them from it Bolivar conceived the daring project of transferring the insurrection to Guiana, which until then had remained loyal. This campaign was well directed by the “Liberator,” seconded by Piar and Brion, and its success was so great that in less than three months that vast and rich province was subdued by the Republican army, which entered its capital, Angostura, July 17th. During this bold and distant expedition of the Generalissimo, numerous and brilliant victories had been gained in other parts. General Morillo, who came in person to besiege the island of Margarita, was defeated, his camp falling into the hands of the besieged, who on the other hand obliged the Spanish squadron to leave their coast after miraculously escaping complete destruction. Insurrectionary movements increased in Nueva Granada, and guerilla bands were numerous in the Provinces of Antioquia, Quito, and Popayan; Paez with his cavalry gained two important victories over Morillo.
Before the termination of the year 1817 the seat of government was transferred to the capital of Guiana, and Bolivar, who had established his headquarters there, prepared to divide the lands among the Independent soldiers as a recompense for their sacrifices. The campaign of 1818, although it gave the Republican generals opportunities of showing proofs of their courage and military knowledge, had no decisive result, the Republicans only obtaining possession of San Fernando; but other events of immense importance occurred to awaken the general enthusiasm. The very great popularity that Bolivar enjoyed, not only on the American continent but also in Europe itself, attracted to his banner many volunteers from England, France, and the United States, with whom he organized a model legion; at the same time, in Washington and in London, chargés d’affaires of Venezuela were received, which was equivalent to recognizing her existence. In England, Lopez Mendez, charged to contract loans and enlist men, had seen money and men, arms and munitions low in; so that besides the resources necessary to the prosecution of the war the new republic at the end of 1818 relied upon nine thousand foreign combatants. Despairing of conquering the Liberator they attempted to assassinate him; twelve men armed with daggers penetrated one night into the tent, from which he escaped half-dressed.
At the end of the year 1818 the Republicans were in an excel lent position; the Spaniards on the contrary found themselves reduced to the last extremity, having to face on all sides regular armies and the guerilla bands which fell upon them suddenly. Bolivar, who remained in Angostura, after having occupied him self in the regulation of the administration, of agriculture and commerce, assembled in that city the National Congress, which he opened in person on February 15, 1819, laying before it a draft constitution and resigning the dictatorship with which he had been invested. At the request of the Congress, Bolivar accepted the Presidency of the republic, of which Zea was appointed Vice President, until the new constitution was promulgated.
The Liberator, desirous of consolidating the independence, thought the time had arrived to go in search of Morillo, whom he succeeded in putting on the wrong track, moving his troops in different directions and pretending to operate in view of Caracas, while he marched, as he had intended, toward the south of Nueva Granada, of which the Spaniards had been in tranquil possession for two years. After many battles, in which the Republicans were always victorious, Bolivar, not without much fatigue, succeeded in joining Santander and taking him with him. Both armies being united continued their march across the plains inundated by continuous rains, crossed rivers that had overflowed their banks, penetrated deserts where they suffered the torments of thirst, and woods whose trees, of a prodigious height, intercepted the light of day and dropped with continuous rain; scaled the scarped Andes of Tunja, and at length, after undergoing the greatest sufferings for seventy days, and losing a large part of their baggage and all their horses, they arrived at Paya on June 27th. Four days after, Bolivar met in the valley of Sagamoso three thousand five hundred Spaniards, and, without heeding the inferiority of his forces or their reduced condition, routed them, and the same night Tunja fell into his hands. Other actions followed, and the Republicans, by victory after victory, arrived at the bridge of Boyaca, where they gained a decisive victory over the partisans of Spain. When the news of this battle had spread throughout the province the insurrection broke out in all parts with such violence that the Spanish authorities saw no other means of escape than a precipitate flight. Bogota opened its gates to the Independents on August 10, 1819, Santander being instantly appointed President of the Provisional Government. During this time the squadron of Margarita, commanded by Admiral Brion, took by assault the fort and city of Barcelona (July 18th), while the Spanish squadron had to return to La Guaira after a fruitless attempt against Margarita. The triumph of the Republicans was as complete as it was decisive. Bolivar having returned to Angostura amid the victorious shouts of the people, the Congress, in accord with public opinion, and after mature deliberation, carried out the favorite project of the Liberator by sanctioning the fusion of the two Provinces of Nueva Granada and Venezuela, which, in honor of Christopher Columbus, received, on December 17, 1819, the glorious name of “The Republic of Colombia.”
This ends our series of passages on Bolivar and South American Independence by Alfred Deberle from his book Histoire de l’Amerique du sud depuis la conquete fusqu’a nos jours. published in 1876. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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