The insurrection had taken alarming proportions in various other parts of America.
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
Between 1808 and 1810 it might have been thought that the mother-country was about to make laudable endeavors to retain these territories by taking away every pretext for rebellion. The colonies received at that time considerable favors and subsidies, and the justly demanded reforms were attempted. The royal decree of January 22, 1809, had declared that the South American provinces were not considered like the colonies of other nations, but as an integral part of the monarchy, and consequently ought to have a direct and immediate representation in the Spanish Cortes. Moreover the Junta of Seville sent in 1810 to the Spanish-Americans to say: “At last you are raised to the dignity of free men! The time has passed in which, under the weight of an insupportable yoke, you were the victims of absolutism, ambition, and ignorance. Bear in mind that, electing your representatives to the Cortes, your destiny will no longer depend on ministers, kings, or governors, but is in your own hands.” After this explicit declaration of the manner in which Spain had governed her colonies the decree was published by the terms of which those representatives were to be elected. There was to be one for each capital, chosen by lot from three individuals designated by the municipalities, according to the formalities that the Viceroy would be pleased to prescribe.
When the Regency of Cadiz came to replace the central Junta, the ordinances of 1809 on the liberty of commerce, which they had reestablished, were abolished, the immediate consequence of such an extraordinary measure being to arouse men’s minds, especially in the Province of Caracas, where the principles of liberty and equality had grown with greater vigor than in the other South American colonies. The municipal council formed itself into a supreme junta of government, April 19, 1810, and at the same time that it recognized Ferdinand VII as king it rebelled against the decrees of the Regency. The formation of this junta coincided with the arrival of certain agents who went to demand the oath of fidelity to Joseph, and who were received with the shout of “Long live Ferdinand!” since the hatred against Napoleon and all his partisans (who were called afrancesados) was as general in the colonies as at home. The Viceroy of Nueva Granada, accused of intending to deliver America into Napoleon’s hands, was exiled to Cartagena, and almost simultaneously the Provinces of Cundinamarca, Pamplona, and Socorro, as well as those of the north — Tunja, Casanare, Antioquia, Choco, Neiva, and Mariquita, rose, and the Province of Quito attempted a sec ond revolt at the mere rumor that the French troops were threatening Nueva Granada. The viceroyalty having disappeared from the latter, each provincial capital desired to be the seat of the Junta without heeding the claims of the others; but as union was absolutely necessary to attain the end proposed it was eventually fixed in Santa Fé de Bogota, and recognized Ferdinand VII as sovereign ruler, and invited Caracas to follow its example. But this province, which obeyed General Miranda, an old companion-in-arms of Washington, would not accept the invitation, replying that the representatives of the united provinces of Venezuela were going to found a free government — which in fact they afterward did — tending to form part of the Republic of Colombia by a declaration of the deputies of Caracas, Varinas, Barcelona, Cumana, Margarita, Merida, and Trujillo, but later (in 1830), they declared themselves an independent state.
The insurrection had taken alarming proportions in various other parts of America. Buenos Aires and Montevideo maintained a war against the English from 1804 to 1807, the ports of La Plata having to support continuous and formidable blockades. Jacques de Liniers, a Frenchman by birth, in the service of Spain, by reanimating the courage of the colonists had succeeded in raising the blockade. These inexperienced soldiers, proud of their success, and allowing themselves to be led by the advice of such men as Moreno, Castelli, Belgrano, and Valcarcel — all imbued with ideas imported from the United States and France — formed the nucleus of the army of the insurrection; so that, in a short time, Buenos Aires was prepared to sustain the struggle in a formal and decisive manner. An assembly of about six hundred notables of the country deprived the Viceroy, Baltasar de Cisneros, of power in 1810, and the movement that was directed by Castelli and Belgrano went on gaining ground daily and over came all opposition in spite of the reenforcements that the wife of John VI sent from Portugal and the formation of an army corps under the command of the Viceroy of Peru. Victory remained with the men of Buenos Aires after a few days’ contest, and many Spanish officers were made prisoners after being deserted by their soldiers. Montevideo served as a refuge for the Royalists, where they established their headquarters, no doubt, with the intention of making another attempt to overcome the Independents, but very soon, in Montevideo as in all the provinces of Paraguay, supreme juntas were formed and the revolution became general.
The Chileans revolted in 1810 and were also victorious. This was the more remarkable, as the Chileans, having a very small quantity of arms, had to manufacture their cannon out of the trunks of trees, and these could be discharged only four times before they became useless. Some battalions had only agricultural instruments for weapons. To fight and conquer under such conditions could be done only by a people who rose at the sacred call of liberty.
The cause of independence presented a different aspect among the Peruvians, for, although Upper Peru struggled with rare hero ism, Lower Peru remained loyal, and this afforded a strong base of operations to the Spaniards. The revolution having broken out in May, 1809, in Charcas and La Paz, a small army corps from Buenos Aires had marched to them in order to support the movement, and, having been joined by many revolutionists, they had succeeded at length in entering Potosi, guided by Castelli and Valcarcel. The victories gained by the Government of Lima were not of any permanent benefit, since, being obliged to divide their forces to oppose the insurgents of Quito, Upper Peru, and Chile, their effectiveness was very much reduced. In the capital, a beautiful and indolent city, the movement was not taken up with equal enthusiasm by all classes of the population. It was supported everywhere by the members of the lower order of the clergy; but, on the other hand, the high dignitaries of the Church, the nobility, and the families and dependents of the public officers rejected it. Referring to the former, a letter of Morillo to his Government, published in the Revolutions in Spanish America, says that they were very discontented; not a single one appearing devoted to the Government of the King of Spain.
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