Latin American Revolutions and Beyond
This painting called Liberators by Alfredo Zalce shows four important leaders of Latin American independence. The two priests of the left are Father Miguel Hidalgo and Jose de Morelos, two leaders of Mexican independence who were killed in the war against Spain. On their right South American "Liberator" Simon Bolivar shakes hands with Argentinean general Jose de San Martin. The two were responsible for leading South Americans in Spanish colonies to independence.
Part I: On the Eve of Independence
On the eve of independence . . .PeninsularesCreolesMestizosMulattosNative IndiansBlack SlavesDemographically, Latin America was a multiracial society (much different from Europe). Spain and Portugal controlled s of the Western Hemisphere, but only a small number of Iberians settled there the Peninsulares. Together, Peninsulares and Creoles compromised only 2 % of the population and owned nearly all the mines, ranches, plantations, and (the very few) manufacturing establishments
Demographics, contdGreatly outnumbering the Peninsulares and Creole elites, the rest of the peoples in the region supplied the forced labor, which was the foundation of the economy: Amerindian peons (peasants in semi-slave status on a hacienda; similar to serfs), mestizos, mulattoes, and black slaves. Only in Brazil did black slaves form the majority of the population, but elsewhere in Latin America indigenous peoples and people of mixed ancestry (mulattoes and mestizos) were the most numerous. This multiracial atmosphere brought a somewhat more relaxed attitude about race in Latin America than in Europe or in British North America.
Economically, Spain followed mercantilist doctrine and closely regulated its American colonies until well into the 18th c; however, smuggling was rampant as the demand for lower cost manufactured goods persisted. Spain rivaled Great Britain (who had the more powerful navy) as a major European colonial power. On the other hand, the Portuguese were not as rigid mercantilists as the Spanish and allowed foreign merchant ships to Brazilian ports. Note that mercantilism does not equal laissez-faire!On the eve of independence . . .
The Roman Catholic Church established its most important responsibility as the conversion of Amerindians. The church controlled all education and reserved it for upper and middle classes who considered it unnecessary and dangerous to educate the masses. Likewise, 90% of the population remained illiterate including upper class women who were taught exclusively domestic and social skills. On the eve of independence . . .Religion
Intellectually, the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment reached Latin America by the late 18th c. Colonial newspapers (with its Creole readership) expressed concern over political abuses and expressed the Enlightenment idea of being willing to challenge traditional authority and belief in reason and social progress. On the eve of independence . . .
On the eve of independence . . .
Viceroys represented the king in New Spain (Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America) and Peru (all of Spanish South America) and held great power over local appointments, administration, finance, and the military forces present. Most of these important government positions went to Peninsulares, which really agitated the Creoles.
Like the British North American colonists, the Creoles resented the mercantilist regulations imposed by the Iberian powers and, drawing from Enlightenment political thought, occasionally took part in tax revolts and popular uprisings.By the early 18th c, some Creoles began thinking of themselves as Spanish-Americans, rather than as Spaniards (ahem . . . nationalism) and also resented the Peninsulares monopoly of political power and aristocratic privilege. The Creoles also held contempt for the mestizo middle class (artisans, shopkeepers, merchants, etc) and sought to maintain their power and position. On the eve of independence . . .
Part II:Latin American Independence . . . a 19th century affair
TRIGGER: The aftershocks of the French Revolution and the era of Napoleon were felt strongly in Latin AmericaInfluenced by the republican political principles in the U.S and by the reforms of the French Revolution and Napoleon, some Creoles hoped to create comparable liberal institutions in Latin America at least for the upper classes. Sketch by Jacques-Louis David of the National Assembly making the Tennis Court Oath
Creoles & RevolutionThe Creoles sought to displace the Peninsulares but retain their privileged position in society: political independence without a real revolution. Some of the more radical leaders of independence movements wanted to disestablish the Roman Catholic Church and tax or confiscate its property. Few Creoles gave much thought to the needs of the masses of workers and peasants
Saint DominiqueIronically, black slaves and mulatto freemen launched the revolutionary era, not the Creoles. Saint Dominique revolted against French authority and drove out white authority. Toussaint LOuverture led a disciplined rebel army and fended off attacks by other European nations (France, Spain, and Britain) and even revolts by mulatto factions. The success of black slaves in Haiti disturbed conservative nations in general and slaveholding nations in particular.
At the end of the bloody uprising of the slaves of the island of St. Domingue against their French masters, on January 1, 1804 General Dessalines, leader of the uprising after the arrest of Toussaint LOuverture, read the following Act of Independence on the Place d'Armes of Gonaves. The actual author of the text was Dessalines secretary, Boisrond Tonerre. Dessalines was soon to have himself crowned emperor and was assassinated in 1806.
LIBERTY OR DEATH
Gonaves, January 1, 1804
Year I of IndependenceToday, January 1, 1804, the General in Chief of the Indigenous Army, accompanied by generals and army chiefs convoked in order to take measures tending to the happiness of the country:After having made known to the assembled generals his true intention of forever ensuring to the natives of Haiti a stable government the object of his greatest solicitude, which he did in a speech that made known to foreign powers the resolution to render the country independent, and to enjoy the liberty consecrated by the blood of the people of this island; and, after having gathered their opinions, asked each of the assembled generals to pronounce a vow to forever renounce France; to die rather than to live under its domination; and to fight for independence with their last breath.The generals, imbued with these sacred principles, after having with one voice given their adherence to the well manifested project of independence, have all sworn before eternity and before the entire universe to forever renounce France and to die rather than live under its domination.Signed:Dessalines General-in-ChiefChristophe, Ption, Clerveaux, Vernet, Gabart Major GeneralsP.Romain, G. Grin, L. Capois, Jean-Louis Francois, Frou, Cang, G. Bazelais, Magloire Ambroise, J.J. Herne, Toussaint Brave, Yayou Brigadier generalsBonet, F. Paplier, Morelly, Chevalier, Marion Adjutants-generalMagny, Roux Brigade ChiefsChaperon, B. Goret, Macajoux, Dupuy, Carbonne, Diaquoiain, Raphael, Malet, Derenoncourt Army officersBoisrond Tonnerre Secretary
New Spain and Peru Sparked by European war
When Napoleon invaded Spain and Portugal in 1807 and deposed the monarchs, royal authority in the Iberian colonies weakened. Argentina removed itself from royal control in 1810 and proclaimed independence in 1816. Rebels in Venezuela pronounced their independence in 1811. Often referred to as the father of South America, the Venezuelan Creole Simon Bolivar led multiple Latin American independence movements in the northern part of South America and in Central America. Meanwhile, Jose de San Martin crossed the Andes from Argentina into Chile and drove out the Spanish in the southern part of the continent.
Bolivar & San Martin Fight for Independence!
While these Creole-led independence movements advocated popular sovereignty, they desired neither social reform like those promoted by Robespierre nor the egalitarian society like in Haiti.
Other European nations considered sending troops to stop these movements and supplant their rule over the region.However, Great Britain opposed European intervention and hoped for new trade and investment opportunities, and with the possibility of British naval interference, other nations werent willing to risk a British naval war.
After its mild victory in the War of 1812 against Great Britain, the United States issued the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 in an attempt to strengthen its own influence and to voice opposition to European interference in the Western Hemisphere, but the U.S.s position was irrelevant because of its comparatively weak international status.
Mexico: Revolutions OriginsWhereas the South American independence movements were struggles by the upper class, Mexicos independence included class revolution and race warfare. Creoles and Peninsulares made disorganized attempts for independence from 1808 to 1810. But
Mexico, Phase 1The rebellion of Amerindian and mestizo peasants led by Father Miguel Hidalgo confronted and united the upper classes. Father Hidalgo demanded civil rights for peasants, a redistribution of wealth, equality for peasants, and the return of land to indigenous peoples.
Mexico, Phase 2Subsequently, both liberal and conservative elites joined to crush the rebellion