The Hispanic Nations of the New World - Volume 50 in The Chronicles Of America Series
by William R. Shepherd
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By William R. Shepherd

New Haven: Yale University Press

Toronto: Glasgow, Brook & Co.

London: Humphrey Milford

Oxford University Press


















At the time of the American Revolution most of the New World still belonged to Spain and Portugal, whose captains and conquerors had been the first to come to its shores. Spain had the lion's share, but Portugal held Brazil, in itself a vast land of unsuspected resources. No empire mankind had ever yet known rivaled in size the illimitable domains of Spain and Portugal in the New World; and none displayed such remarkable contrasts in land and people. Boundless plains and forests, swamps and deserts, mighty mountain chains, torrential streams and majestic rivers, marked the surface of the country. This vast territory stretched from the temperate prairies west of the Mississippi down to the steaming lowlands of Central America, then up through tablelands in the southern continent to high plateaus, miles above sea level, where the sun blazed and the cold, dry air was hard to breathe, and then higher still to the lofty peaks of the Andes, clad in eternal snow or pouring fire and smoke from their summits in the clouds, and thence to the lower temperate valleys, grassy pampas, and undulating hills of the far south.

Scattered over these vast colonial domains in the Western World were somewhere between 12,000,000 and 19,000,000 people subject to Spain, and perhaps 3,000,000, to Portugal; the great majority of them were Indians and negroes, the latter predominating in the lands bordering on the Caribbean Sea and along the shores of Brazil. Possibly one-fourth of the inhabitants came of European stock, including not only Spaniards and their descendants but also the folk who spoke English in the Floridas and French in Louisiana.

During the centuries which had elapsed since the entry of the Spaniards and Portuguese into these regions an extraordinary fusion of races had taken place. White, red, and black had mingled to such an extent that the bulk of the settled population became half-caste. Only in the more temperate regions of the far north and south, where the aborigines were comparatively few or had disappeared altogether, did the whites remain racially distinct. Socially the Indian and the negro counted for little. They constituted the laboring class on whom all the burdens fell and for whom advantages in the body politic were scant. Legally the Indian under Spanish rule stood on a footing of equality with his white fellows, and many a gifted native came to be reckoned a force in the community, though his social position remained a subordinate one. Most of the negroes were slaves and were more kindly treated by the Spaniards than by the Portuguese.

Though divided among themselves, the Europeans were everywhere politically dominant. The Spaniard was always an individualist. Besides, he often brought from the Old World petty provincial traditions which were intensified in the New. The inhabitants of towns, many of which had been founded quite independently of one another, knew little about their remote neighbors and often were quite willing to convert their ignorance into prejudice: The dweller in the uplands and the resident on the coast were wont to view each other with disfavor. The one was thought heavy and stupid, the other frivolous and lazy. Native Spaniards regarded the Creoles, or American born, as persons who had degenerated more or less by their contact with the aborigines and the wilderness. For their part, the Creoles looked upon the Spaniards as upstarts and intruders, whose sole claim to consideration lay in the privileges dispensed them by the home government. In testimony of this attitude they coined for their oversea kindred numerous nicknames which were more expressive than complimentary. While the Creoles held most of the wealth and of the lower offices, the Spaniards enjoyed the perquisites and emoluments of the higher posts.

Though objects of disdain to both these masters, the Indians generally preferred the Spaniard to the Creole. The Spaniard represented a distant authority interested in the welfare of its humbler subjects and came less into actual daily contact with the natives. While it would hardly be correct to say that the Spaniard was viewed as a protector and the Creole as an oppressor, yet the aborigines unconsciously made some such hazy distinction if indeed they did not view all Europeans with suspicion and dislike. In Brazil the relation of classes was much the same, except that here the native element was much less conspicuous as a social factor.

These distinctions were all the more accentuated by the absence both of other European peoples and of a definite middle class of any race. Everywhere in the areas tenanted originally by Spaniards and Portuguese the European of alien stock was unwelcome, even though he obtained a grudging permission from the home governments to remain a colonist. In Brazil, owing to the close commercial connections between Great Britain and Portugal, foreigners were not so rigidly excluded as in Spanish America. The Spaniard was unwilling that lands so rich in natural treasures should be thrown open to exploitation by others, even if the newcomer professed the Catholic faith. The heretic was denied admission as a matter of course. Had the foreigner been allowed to enter, the risk of such exploitation doubtless would have been increased, but a middle class might have arisen to weld the the discordant factions into a society which had common desires and aspirations. With the development of commerce and industry, with the growth of activities which bring men into touch with each other in everyday affairs, something like a solidarity of sentiment might have been awakened. In its absence the only bond among the dominant whites was their sense of superiority to the colored masses beneath them.

Manual labor and trade had never attracted the Spaniards and the Portuguese. The army, the church, and the law were the three callings that offered the greatest opportunity for distinction. Agriculture, grazing, and mining they did not disdain, provided that superintendence and not actual work was the main requisite. The economic organization which the Spaniards and Portuguese established in America was naturally a more or less faithful reproduction of that to which they had been accustomed at home. Agriculture and grazing became the chief occupations. Domestic animals and many kinds of plants brought from Europe throve wonderfully in their new home. Huge estates were the rule; small farms, the exception. On the ranches and plantations vast droves of cattle, sheep, and horses were raised, as well as immense crops. Mining, once so much in vogue, had become an occupation of secondary importance.

On their estates the planter, the ranchman, and the mine owner lived like feudal overlords, waited upon by Indian and negro peasants who also tilled the fields, tended the droves, and dug the earth for precious metals and stones. Originally the natives had been forced to work under conditions approximating actual servitude, but gradually the harsher features of this system had given way to a mode of service closely resembling peonage. Paid a pitifully small wage, provided with a hut of reeds or sundried mud and a tiny patch of soil on which to grow a few hills of the corn and beans that were his usual nourishment, the ordinary Indian or half-caste laborer was scarcely more than a beast of burden, a creature in whom civic virtues of a high order were not likely to develop. If he betook himself to the town his possible usefulness lessened in proportion as he fell into drunken or dissolute habits, or lapsed into a state of lazy and vacuous dreaminess, enlivened only by chatter or the rolling of a cigarette. On the other hand, when employed in a capacity where native talent might be tested, he often revealed a power of action which, if properly guided, could be turned to excellent account. As a cowboy, for example, he became a capital horseman, brave, alert, skillful, and daring.

Commerce with Portugal and Spain was long confined to yearly fairs and occasional trading fleets that plied between fixed points. But when liberal decrees threw open numerous ports in the mother countries to traffic and the several colonies were given also the privilege of exchanging their products among themselves, the volume of exports and imports increased and gave an impetus to activity which brought a notable release from the torpor and vegetation characterizing earlier days. Yet, even so, communication was difficult and irregular. By sea the distances were great and the vessels slow. Overland the natural obstacles to transportation were so numerous and the methods of conveyance so cumbersome and expensive that the people of one province were practically strangers to their neighbors.

Matters of the mind and of the soul were under the guardianship of the Church. More than merely a spiritual mentor, it controlled education and determined in large measure the course of intellectual life. Possessed of vast wealth in lands and revenues, its monasteries and priories, its hospitals and asylums, its residences of ecclesiastics, were the finest buildings in every community, adorned with the masterpieces of sculptors and painters. A village might boast of only a few squalid huts, yet there in the "plaza," or central square, loomed up a massively imposing edifice of worship, its towers pointing heavenward, the sign and symbol of triumphant power.

The Church, in fact, was the greatest civilizing agency that Spain and Portugal had at their disposal. It inculcated a reverence for the monarch and his ministers and fostered a deep-rooted sentiment of conservatism which made disloyalty and innovation almost sacrilegious. In the Spanish colonies in particular the Church not only protected the natives against the rapacity of many a white master but taught them the rudiments of the Christian faith, as well as useful arts and trades. In remote places, secluded so far as possible from contact with Europeans, missionary pioneers gathered together groups of neophytes whom they rendered docile and industrious, it is true, but whom they often deprived of initiative and selfreliance and kept illiterate and superstitious.

Education was reserved commonly for members of the ruling class. As imparted in the universities and schools, it savored strongly of medievalism. Though some attention was devoted to the natural sciences, experimental methods were not encouraged and found no place in lectures and textbooks. Books, periodicals, and other publications came under ecclesiastical inspection, and a vigilant censorship determined what was fit for the public to read.

Supreme over all the colonial domains was the government of their majesties, the monarchs of Spain and Portugal. A ministry and a council managed the affairs of the inhabitants of America and guarded their destinies in accordance with the theories of enlightened despotism then prevailing in Europe. The Spanish dominions were divided into viceroyalties and subdivided into captaincies general, presidencies, and intendancies. Associated with the high officials who ruled them were audiencias, or boards, which were at once judicial and administrative. Below these individuals and bodies were a host of lesser functionaries who, like their superiors, held their posts by appointment. In Brazil the governor general bore the title of viceroy and carried on the administration assisted by provincial captains, supreme courts, and local officers.

This control was by no means so autocratic as it might seem. Portugal had too many interests elsewhere, and was too feeble besides, to keep tight rein over a territory so vast and a population so much inclined as the Brazilian to form itself into provincial units, jealous of the central authority. Spain, on its part, had always practised the good old Roman rule of "divide and govern." Its policy was to hold the balance among officials, civil and ecclesiastical, and inhabitants, white and colored. It knew how strongly individualistic the Spaniard was and realized the full force of the adage, "I obey, but I do not fulfill!" Legislatures and other agencies of government directly representative of the people did not exist in Spanish or Portuguese America. The Spanish cabildo, or town council, however, afforded an opportunity for the expression of the popular will and often proved intractable. Its membership was appointive, elective, hereditary, and even purchasable, but the form did not affect the substance. The Spanish Americans had an instinct for politics. "Here all men govern," declared one of the viceroys; "the people have more part in political discussions than in any other provinces in the world; a council of war sits in every house."


The movement which led eventually to the emancipation of the colonies differed from the local uprisings which occurred in various parts of South America during the eighteenth century. Either the arbitrary conduct of individual governors or excessive taxation had caused the earlier revolts. To the final revolution foreign nations and foreign ideas gave the necessary impulse. A few members of the intellectual class had read in secret the writings of French and English philosophers. Others had traveled abroad and came home to whisper to their countrymen what they had seen and heard in lands more progressive than Spain and Portugal. The commercial relations, both licit and illicit, which Great Britain had maintained with several of the colonies had served to diffuse among them some notions of what went on in the busy world outside.

By gaining its independence, the United States had set a practical example of what might be done elsewhere in America. Translated into French, the Declaration of Independence was read and commented upon by enthusiasts who dreamed of the possibility of applying its principles in their own lands. More powerful still were the ideas liberated by the French Revolution and Napoleon. Borne across the ocean, the doctrines of "Liberty, Fraternity, Equality" stirred the ardent-minded to thoughts of action, though the Spanish and Portuguese Americans who schemed and plotted were the merest handful. The seed they planted was slow to germinate among peoples who had been taught to regard things foreign as outlandish and heretical. Many years therefore elapsed before the ideas of the few became the convictions of the masses, for the conservatism and loyalty of the common people were unbelieveably steadfast.

Not Spanish and Portuguese America, but Santo Domingo, an island which had been under French rule since 1795 and which was tenanted chiefly by ignorant and brutalized negro slaves, was the scene of the first effectual assertion of independence in the lands originally colonized by Spain. Rising in revolt against their masters, the negroes had won complete control under their remarkable commander, Toussaint L'Ouverture, when Napoleon Bonaparte, then First Consul, decided to restore the old regime. But the huge expedition which was sent to reduce the island ended in absolute failure. After a ruthless racial warfare, characterized by ferocity on both sides, the French retired. In 1804 the negro leaders proclaimed the independence of the island as the "Republic of Haiti," under a President who, appreciative of the example just set by Napoleon, informed his followers that he too had assumed the august title of "Emperor"! His immediate successor in African royalty was the notorious Henri Christophe, who gathered about him a nobility garish in color and taste—including their sable lordships, the "Duke of Marmalade" and the "Count of Lemonade"; and who built the palace of "Sans Souci" and the countryseats of "Queen's Delight" and "King's Beautiful View," about which cluster tales of barbaric pleasure that rival the grim legends clinging to the parapets and enshrouding the dungeons of his mountain fortress of "La Ferriere." None of these black or mulatto potentates, however, could expel French authority from the eastern part of Santo Domingo. That task was taken in hand by the inhabitants themselves, and in 1809 they succeeded in restoring the control of Spain. Meanwhile events which had been occurring in South America prepared the way for the movement that was ultimately to banish the flags of both Spain and Portugal from the continents of the New World. As the one country had fallen more or less tinder the influence of France, so the other had become practically dependent upon Great Britain. Interested in the expansion of its commerce and viewing the outlying possessions of peoples who submitted to French guidance as legitimate objects for seizure, Great Britain in 1797 wrested Trinidad from the feeble grip of Spain and thus acquired a strategic position very near South America itself. Haiti, Trinidad, and Jamaica, in fact, all became Centers of revolutionary agitation and havens of refuge for. Spanish American radicals in the troublous years to follow.

Foremost among the early conspirators was the Venezuelan, Francisco de Miranda, known to his fellow Americans of Spanish stock as the "Precursor." Napoleon once remarked of him: "He is a Don Quixote, with this difference—he is not crazy.... The man has sacred fire in his soul." An officer in the armies of Spain and of revolutionary France and later a resident of London, Miranda devoted thirty years of his adventurous life to the cause of independence for his countrymen. With officials of the British Government he labored long and zealously, eliciting from them vague promises of armed support and some financial aid. It was in London, also, that he organized a group of sympathizers into the secret society called the "Grand Lodge of America." With it, or with its branches in France and Spain, many of the leaders of the subsequent revolution came to be identified.

In 1806, availing himself of the negligence of the United States and having the connivance of the British authorities in Trinidad, Miranda headed two expeditions to the coast of Venezuela. He had hoped that his appearance would be the signal for a general uprising; instead, he was treated with indifference. His countrymen seemed to regard him as a tool of Great Britain, and no one felt disposed to accept the blessings of liberty under that guise. Humiliated, but not despairing, Miranda returned to London to await a happier day.

Two British expeditions which attempted to conquer the region about the Rio de la Plata in 1806 and 1807 were also frustrated by this same stubborn loyalty. When the Spanish viceroy fled, the inhabitants themselves rallied to the defense of the country and drove out the invaders. Thereupon the people of Buenos Aires, assembled in cabildo abierto, or town meeting, deposed the viceroy and chose their victorious leader in his stead until a successor could be regularly appointed.

Then, in 1808, fell the blow which was to shatter the bonds uniting Spain to its continental dominions in America. The discord and corruption which prevailed in that unfortunate country afforded Napoleon an opportunity to oust its feeble king and his incompetent son, Ferdinand, and to place Joseph Bonaparte on the throne. But the master of Europe underestimated the fighting ability of Spaniards. Instead of humbly complying with his mandate, they rose in arms against the usurper and created a central junta, or revolutionary committee, to govern in the name of Ferdinand VII, as their rightful ruler.

The news of this French aggression aroused in the colonies a spirit of resistance as vehement as that in the mother country. Both Spaniards and Creoles repudiated the "intruder king." Believing, as did their comrades oversea, that Ferdinand was a helpless victim in the hands of Napoleon, they recognized the revolutionary government and sent great sums of money to Spain to aid in the struggle against the French. Envoys from Joseph Bonaparte seeking an acknowledgment of his rule were angrily rejected and were forced to leave.

The situation on both sides of the ocean was now an extraordinary one. Just as the junta in Spain had no legal right to govern, so the officials in the colonies, holding their posts by appointment from a deposed king, had no legal authority, and the people would not allow them to accept new commissions from a usurper. The Church, too, detesting Napoleon as the heir of a revolution that had undermined the Catholic faith and regarding him as a godless despot who had made the Pope a captive, refused to recognize the French pretender. Until Ferdinand VII could be restored to his throne, therefore, the colonists had to choose whether they would carry on the administration under the guidance of the self-constituted authorities in Spain, or should themselves create similar organizations in each of the colonies to take charge of affairs. The former course was favored by the official element and its supporters among the conservative classes, the latter by the liberals, who felt that they had as much right as the people of the mother country to choose the form of government best suited to their interests.

Each party viewed the other with distrust. Opposition to the more democratic procedure, it was felt, could mean nothing less than secret submission to the pretensions of Joseph Bonaparte; whereas the establishment in America of any organizations like those in Spain surely indicated a spirit of disloyalty toward Ferdinand VII himself. Under circumstances like these, when the junta and its successor, the council of regency, refused to make substantial concessions to the colonies, both parties were inevitably drifting toward independence. In the phrase of Manuel Belgrano, one of the great leaders in the viceroyalty of La Plata, "our old King or none" became the watchword that gradually shaped the thoughts of Spanish Americans.

When, therefore, in 1810, the news came that the French army had overrun Spain, democratic ideas so long cherished in secret and propagated so industriously by Miranda and his followers at last found expression in a series of uprisings in the four viceroyalties of La Plata, Peru, New Granada, and New Spain. But in each of these viceroyalties the revolution ran a different course. Sometimes it was the capital city that led off; sometimes a provincial town; sometimes a group of individuals in the country districts. Among the actual participants in the various movements very little harmony was to be found. Here a particular leader claimed obedience; there a board of self-chosen magistrates held sway; elsewhere a town or province refused to acknowledge the central authority. To add to these complications, in 1812, a revolutionary Cortes, or legislative body, assembled at Cadiz, adopted for Spain and its dominions a constitution providing for direct representation of the colonies in oversea administration. Since arrangements of this sort contented many of the Spanish Americans who had protested against existing abuses, they were quite unwilling to press their grievances further. Given all these evidences of division in activity and counsel, one does not find it difficult to foresee the outcome.

On May 25, 1810, popular agitation at Buenos Aires forced the Spanish viceroy of La Plata to resign. The central authority was thereupon vested in an elected junta that was to govern in the name of Ferdinand VII. Opposition broke out immediately. The northern and eastern parts of the viceroyalty showed themselves quite unwilling to obey these upstarts. Meantime, urged on by radicals who revived the Jacobin doctrines of revolutionary France, the junta strove to suppress in rigorous fashion any symptoms of disaffection; but it could do nothing to stem the tide of separation in the rest of the viceroyalty—in Charcas (Bolivia), Paraguay, and the Banda Oriental, or East Bank, of the Uruguay.

At Buenos Aires acute difference of opinion—about the extent to which the movement should be carried and about the permanent form of government to be adopted as well as the method of establishing it—produced a series of political commotions little short of anarchy. Triumvirates followed the junta into power; supreme directors alternated with triumvirates; and constituent assemblies came and went. Under one authority or another the name of the viceroyalty was changed to "United Provinces of La Plata River"; a seal, a flag, and a coat of arms were chosen; and numerous features of the Spanish regime were abolished, including titles of nobility, the Inquisition, the slave trade, and restrictions on the press. But so chaotic were the conditions within and so disastrous the campaigns without, that eventually commissioners were sent to Europe, bearing instructions to seek a king for the distracted country.

When Charcas fell under the control of the viceroy of Peru, Paraguay set up a regime for itself. At Asuncion, the capital, a revolutionary outbreak in 1811 replaced the Spanish intendant by a triumvirate, of which the most prominent member was Dr. Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia. A lawyer by profession, familiar with the history of Rome, an admirer of France and Napoleon, a misanthrope and a recluse, possessing a blind faith in himself and actuated by a sense of implacable hatred for all who might venture to thwart his will, this extraordinary personage speedily made himself master of the country. A population composed chiefly of Indians, docile in temperament and submissive for many years to the paternal rule of Jesuit missionaries, could not fail to become pliant instruments in his hands. At his direction, therefore, Paraguay declared itself independent of both Spain and La Plata. This done, an obedient Congress elected Francia consul of the republic and later invested him with the title of dictator. In the Banda Oriental two distinct movements appeared. Montevideo, the capital, long a center of royalist sympathies and for some years hostile to the revolutionary government in Buenos Aires, was reunited with La Plata in 1814. Elsewhere the people of the province followed the fortunes of Jose Gervasio Artigas, an able and valiant cavalry officer, who roamed through it at will, bidding defiance to any authority not his own. Most of the former viceroyalty of La Plata had thus, to all intents and purposes, thrown off the yoke of Spain.

Chile was the only other province that for a while gave promise of similar action. Here again it was the capital city that took the lead. On receipt of the news of the occurrences at Buenos Aires in May, 1810, the people of Santiago forced the captain general to resign and, on the 18th of September, replaced him by a junta of their own choosing. But neither this body, nor its successors, nor even the Congress that assembled the following year, could establish a permanent and effective government. Nowhere in Spanish America, perhaps, did the lower classes count for so little, and the upper class for so much, as in Chile. Though the great landholders were disposed to favor a reasonable amount of local autonomy for the country, they refused to heed the demands of the radicals for complete independence and the establishment of a republic. Accordingly, in proportion as their opponents resorted to measures of compulsion, the gentry gradually withdrew their support and offered little resistance when troops dispatched by the viceroy of Peru restored the Spanish regime in 1814. The irreconcilable among the patriots fled over the Andes to the western part of La Plata, where they found hospitable refuge.

But of all the Spanish dominions in South America none witnessed so desperate a struggle for emancipation as the viceroyalty of New Granada. Learning of the catastrophe that had befallen the mother country, the leading citizens of Caracas, acting in conjunction with the cabildo, deposed the captain general on April 19, 1810, and created a junta in his stead. The example was quickly followed by most of the smaller divisions of the province. Then when Miranda returned from England to head the revolutionary movement, a Congress, on July 5, 1811, declared Venezuela independent of Spain. Carried away, also, by the enthusiasm of the moment, and forgetful of the utter unpreparedness of the country, the Congress promulgated a federal constitution modeled on that of the United States, which set forth all the approved doctrines of the rights of man.

Neither Miranda nor his youthful coadjutor, Simon Bolivar, soon to become famous in the annals of Spanish American history, approved of this plunge into democracy. Ardent as their patriotism was, they knew that the country needed centralized control and not experiments in confederation or theoretical liberty. They speedily found out, also, that they could not count on the support of the people at large. Then, almost as if Nature herself disapproved of the whole proceeding, a frightful earthquake in the following year shook many a Venezuelan town into ruins. Everywhere the royalists took heart. Dissensions broke out between Miranda and his subordinates. Betrayed into the hands of his enemies, the old warrior himself was sent away to die in a Spanish dungeon. And so the "earthquake" republic collapsed.

But the rigorous measures adopted by the royalists to sustain their triumph enabled Bolivar to renew the struggle in 1813. He entered upon a campaign which was signalized by acts of barbarity on both sides. His declaration of "war to the death" was answered in kind. Wholesale slaughter of prisoners, indiscriminate pillage, and wanton destruction of property spread terror and desolation throughout the country. Acclaimed "Liberator of Venezuela" and made dictator by the people of Caracas, Bolivar strove in vain to overcome the half-savage llaneros, or cowboys of the plains, who despised the innovating aristocrats of the capital. Though he won a few victories, he did not make the cause of independence popular, and, realizing his failure, he retired into New Granada.

In this region an astounding series of revolutions and counter-revolutions had taken place. Unmindful of pleas for cooperation, the Creole leaders in town and district, from 1810 onward, seized control of affairs in a fashion that betokened a speedy disintegration of the country. Though the viceroy was deposed and a general Congress was summoned to meet at the capital, Bogota, efforts at centralization encountered opposition in every quarter. Only the royalists managed to preserve a semblance of unity. Separate republics sprang into being and in 1813 declared their independence of Spain. Presidents and congresses were pitted against one another. Towns fought among themselves. Even parishes demanded local autonomy. For a while the services of Bolivar were invoked to force rebellious areas into obedience to the principle of confederation, but with scant result. Unable to agree with his fellow officers and displaying traits of moral weakness which at this time as on previous occasions showed that he had not yet risen to a full sense of responsibility, the Liberator renounced the task and fled to Jamaica.

The scene now shifts northward to the viceroyalty of New Spain. Unlike the struggles already described, the uprisings that began in 1810 in central Mexico were substantially revolts of Indians and half-castes against white domination. On the 16th of September, a crowd of natives rose under the leadership of Miguel Hidalgo, a parish priest of the village of Dolores. Bearing on their banners the slogan, "Long live Ferdinand VII and down with bad government," the undisciplined crowd, soon to number tens of thousands, aroused such terror by their behavior that the whites were compelled to unite in self-defense. It mattered not whether Hidalgo hoped to establish a republic or simply to secure for his followers relief from oppression: in either case the whites could expect only Indian domination. Before the trained forces of the whites a horde of natives, so ignorant of modern warfare that some of them tried to stop cannon balls by clapping their straw hats over the mouths of the guns, could not stand their ground. Hidalgo was captured and shot, but he was succeeded by Jose Maria Morelos, also a priest. Reviving the old Aztec name for central Mexico, he summoned a "Congress of Anahuac," which in 1813 asserted that dependence on the throne of Spain was "forever broken and dissolved." Abler and more humane than Hidalgo, he set up a revolutionary government that the authorities of Mexico failed for a while to suppress.

In 1814, therefore, Spain still held the bulk of its dominions. Trinidad, to be sure, had been lost to Great Britain, and both Louisiana and West Florida to the United States. Royalist control, furthermore, had ceased in parts of the viceroyalties of La Plata and New Granada. To regain Trinidad and Louisiana was hopeless: but a wise policy conciliation or an overwhelming display of armed force might yet restore Spanish rule where it had been merely suspended.

Very different was the course of events in Brazil. Strangely enough, the first impulse toward independence was given by the Portuguese royal family. Terrified by the prospective invasion of the country by a French army, late in 1807 the Prince Regent, the royal family, and a host of Portuguese nobles and commoners took passage on British vessels and sailed to Rio de Janeiro. Brazil thereupon became the seat of royal government and immediately assumed an importance which it could never have attained as a mere dependency. Acting under the advice of the British minister, the Prince Regent threw open the ports of the colony to the ships of all nations friendly to Portugal, gave his sanction to a variety of reforms beneficial to commerce and industry, and even permitted a printing press to be set up, though only for official purposes. From all these benevolent activities Brazil derived great advantages. On the other hand, the Prince Regent's aversion to popular education or anything that might savor of democracy and the greed of his followers for place and distinction alienated his colonial subjects. They could not fail to contrast autocracy in Brazil with the liberal ideas that had made headway elsewhere in Spanish America. As a consequence a spirit of unrest arose which boded ill for the maintenance of Portuguese rule.


The restoration of Ferdinand VII to his throne in 1814 encouraged the liberals of Spain, no less than the loyalists of Spanish America, to hope that the "old King" would now grant a new dispensation. Freedom of commerce and a fair measure of popular representation in government, it was believed, would compensate both the mother country for the suffering which it had undergone during the Peninsular War and the colonies for the trials to which loyalty had been subjected. But Ferdinand VII was a typical Bourbon. Nothing less than an absolute reestablishment of the earlier regime would satisfy him. On both sides of the Atlantic, therefore, the liberals were forced into opposition to the crown, although they were so far apart that they could not cooperate with each other. Independence was to be the fortune of the Spanish Americans, and a continuance of despotism, for a while, the lot of the Spaniards.

As the region of the viceroyalty of La Plata had been the first to cast off the authority of the home government, so it was the first to complete its separation from Spain. Despite the fact that disorder was rampant everywhere and that most of the local districts could not or would not send deputies, a congress that assembled at Tucuman voted on July 9, 1816, to declare the "United Provinces in South America" independent. Comprehensive though the expression was, it applied only to the central part of the former viceroyalty, and even there it was little more than an aspiration. Mistrust of the authorities at Buenos Aires, insistence upon provincial autonomy, failure to agree upon a particular kind of republican government, and a lingering inclination to monarchy made progress toward national unity impossible. In 1819, to be sure, a constitution was adopted, providing for a centralized government, but in the country at large it encountered too much resistance from those who favored a federal government to become effective.

In the Banda Oriental, over most of which Artigas and his horsemen held sway, chaotic conditions invited aggression from the direction of Brazil. This East Bank of the Uruguay had long been disputed territory between Spain and Portugal; and now its definite acquisition by the latter seemed an easy undertaking. Instead, however, the task turned out to be a truly formidable one. Montevideo, feebly defended by the forces of the Government at Buenos Aires, soon capitulated, but four years elapsed before the rest of the country could be subdued. Artigas fled to Paraguay, where he fell into the clutches of Francia, never to escape. In 1821 the Banda Oriental was annexed to Brazil as the Cisplatine Province.

Over Paraguay that grim and somber potentate, known as "The Supreme One"—El Supremo—presided with iron hand. In 1817 Francia set up a despotism unique in the annals of South America. Fearful lest contact with the outer world might weaken his tenacious grip upon his subjects, whom he terrorized into obedience, he barred approach to the country and suffered no one to leave it. He organized and drilled an army obedient to his will.. When he went forth by day, attended by an escort of cavalry, the doors and windows of houses had to be kept closed and no one was allowed on the streets. Night he spent till a late hour in reading and study, changing his bedroom frequently to avoid assassination. Religious functions that might disturb the public peace he forbade. Compelling the bishop of Asuncion to resign on account of senile debility, Francia himself assumed the episcopal office. Even intermarriage among the old colonial families he prohibited, so as to reduce all to a common social level. He attained his object. Paraguay became a quiet state, whatever might be said of its neighbors!

Elsewhere in southern Spanish America a brilliant feat of arms brought to the fore its most distinguished soldier. This was Jose de San Martin of La Plata. Like Miranda, he had been an officer in the Spanish army and had returned to his native land an ardent apostle of independence. Quick to realize the fact that, so long as Chile remained under royalist control, the possibility of an attack from that quarter was a constant menace to the safety of the newly constituted republic, he conceived the bold plan of organizing near the western frontier an army—composed partly of Chilean refugees and partly of his own countrymen—with which he proposed to cross the Andes and meet the enemy on his own ground. Among these fugitives was the able and valiant Bernardo O'Higgins, son of an Irish officer who had been viceroy of Peru. Cooperating with O'Higgins, San Martin fixed his headquarters at Mendoza and began to gather and train the four thousand men whom he judged needful for the enterprise.

By January, 1817, the "Army of the Andes" was ready. To cross the mountains meant to transport men, horses, artillery, and stores to an altitude of thirteen thousand feet, where the Uspallata Pass afforded an outlet to Chilean soil. This pass was nearly a mile higher than the Great St. Bernard in the Alps, the crossing of which gave Napoleon Bonaparte such renown. On the 12th of February the hosts of San Martin hurled themselves upon the royalists entrenched on the slopes of Chacabuco and routed them utterly. The battle proved decisive not of the fortunes of Chile alone but of those of all Spanish South America. As a viceroy of Peru later confessed, "it marked the moment when the cause of Spain in the Indies began to recede."

Named supreme director by the people of Santiago, O'Higgins fought vigorously though ineffectually to drive out the royalists who, reinforced from Peru, held the region south of the capital. That he failed did not deter him from having a vote taken under military auspices, on the strength of which, on February 12, 1818, he declared Chile an independent nation, the date of the proclamation being changed to the 1st of January, so as to make the inauguration of the new era coincident with the entry of the new year. San Martin, meanwhile, had been collecting reinforcements with which to strike the final blow. On the 5th of April, the Battle of Maipo gave him the victory he desired. Except for a few isolated points to the southward, the power of Spain had fallen.

Until the fall of Napoleon in 1815 it had been the native loyalists who had supported the cause of the mother country in the Spanish dominions. Henceforth, free from the menace of the European dictator, Spain could look to her affairs in America, and during the next three years dispatched twenty-five thousand men to bring the colonies to obedience. These soldiers began their task in the northern part of South America, and there they ended it—in failure. To this failure the defection of native royalists contributed, for they were alienated not so much by the presence of the Spanish troops as by the often merciless severity that marked their conduct. The atrocities may have been provoked by the behavior of their opponents; but, be this as it may, the patriots gained recruits after each victory.

A Spanish army of more than ten thousand, under the command of Pablo Morillo, arrived in Venezuela in April, 1815. He found the province relatively tranquil and even disposed to welcome the full restoration of royal government. Leaving a garrison sufficient for the purpose of military occupation, Morillo sailed for Cartagena, the key to New Granada. Besieged by land and sea, the inhabitants of the town maintained for upwards of three months a resistance which, in its heroism, privation, and sacrifice, recalled the memorable defense of Saragossa in the mother country against the French seven years before. With Cartagena taken, regulars and loyalists united to stamp out the rebellion elsewhere. At Bogoth, in particular, the new Spanish viceroy installed by Morillo waged a savage war on all suspected of aiding the patriot cause. He did not spare even women, and one of his victims was a young heroine, Policarpa Salavarrieta by name. Though for her execution three thousand soldiers were detailed, the girl was unterrified by her doom and was earnestly beseeching the loyalists among them to turn their arms against the enemies of their country when a volley stretched her lifeless on the ground.

Meanwhile Bolivar had been fitting out, in Haiti and in the Dutch island of Curacao, an expedition to take up anew the work of freeing Venezuela. Hardly had the Liberator landed in May, 1816, when dissensions with his fellow officers frustrated any prospect of success. Indeed they obliged him to seek refuge once more in Haiti. Eventually, however, most of the patriot leaders became convinced that, if they were to entertain a hope of success, they must entrust their fortunes to Bolivar as supreme commander. Their chances of success were increased furthermore by the support of the llaneros who had been won over to the cause of independence. Under their redoubtable chieftain, Jose Antonio Paez, these fierce and ruthless horsemen performed many a feat of valor in the campaigns which followed.

Once again on Venezuelan soil, Bolivar determined to transfer his operations to the eastern part of the country, which seemed to offer better strategic advantages than the region about Caracas. But even here the jealousy of his officers, the insubordination of the free lances, the stubborn resistance of the loyalists—upheld by the wealthy and conservative classes and the able generalship of Morillo, who had returned from New Granada—made the situation of the Liberator all through 1817 and 1818 extremely precarious. Happily for his fading fortunes, his hands were strengthened from abroad. The United States had recognized the belligerency of several of the revolutionary governments in South America and had sent diplomatic agents to them. Great Britain had blocked every attempt of Ferdinand VII to obtain help from the Holy Alliance in reconquering his dominions. And Ferdinand had contributed to his own undoing by failing to heed the urgent requests of Morillo for reinforcements to fill his dwindling ranks. More decisive still were the services of some five thousand British, Irish, French, and German volunteers, who were often the mainstay of Bolivar and his lieutenants during the later phases of the struggle, both in Venezuela and elsewhere.

For some time the Liberator had been evolving a plan of attack upon the royalists in New Granada, similar to the offensive campaign which San Martin had conducted in Chile. More than that, he had conceived the idea, once independence had been attained, of uniting the western part of the viceroyalty with Venezuela into a single republic. The latter plan he laid down before a Congress which assembled at Angostura in February, 1819, and which promptly chose him President of the republic and vested him with the powers of dictator. In June, at the head of 2100 men, he started on his perilous journey over the Andes.

Up through the passes and across bleak plateaus the little army struggled till it reached the banks of the rivulet of Boyaca, in the very heart of New Granada. Here, on the 7th of August, Bolivar inflicted on the royalist forces a tremendous defeat that gave the deathblow to the domination of Spain in northern South America. On his triumphal return to Angostura, the Congress signalized the victory by declaring the whole of the viceroyalty an independent state under the name of the "Republic of Colombia" and chose the Liberator as its provisional President. Two years later, a fundamental law it had adopted was ratified with certain changes by another Congress assembled at Rosario de Cucuta, and Bolivar was made permanent President.

Southward of Colombia lay the viceroyalty of Peru, the oldest, richest, and most conservative of the larger Spanish dominions on the continent. Intact, except for the loss of Chile, it had found territorial compensation by stretching its power over the provinces of Quito and Charcas, the one wrenched off from the former New Granada, the other torn away from what had been La Plata. Predominantly royalist in sentiment, it was like a huge wedge thrust in between the two independent areas. By thus cutting off the patriots of the north from their comrades in the south, it threatened both with destruction of their liberty.

Again fortune intervened from abroad, this time directly from Spain itself. Ferdinand VII, who had gathered an army of twenty thousand men at Cadiz, was ready to deliver a crushing blow at the colonies when in January, 1890, a mutiny among the troops and revolution throughout the country entirely frustrated the plan. But although that reactionary monarch was compelled to accept the Constitution of 1819, the Spanish liberals were unwilling to concede to their fellows in America anything more substantial than representation in the Cortes. Independence they would not tolerate. On the other hand, the example of the mother country in arms against its King in the name of liberty could not fail to give heart to the cause of liberation in the provinces oversea and to hasten its achievement.

The first important efforts to profit by this situation were made by the patriots in Chile. Both San Martin and O'Higgins had perceived that the only effective way to eliminate the Peruvian wedge was to gain control of its approaches by sea. The Chileans had already won some success in this direction when the fiery and imperious Scotch sailor, Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald, appeared on the scene and offered to organize a navy. At length a squadron was put under his command. With upwards of four thousand troops in charge of San Martin the expedition set sail for Peru late in August, 1820.

While Cochrane busied himself in destroying the Spanish blockade, his comrade in arms marched up to the very gates of Lima, the capital, and everywhere aroused enthusiasm for emancipation. When negotiations, which had been begun by the viceroy and continued by a special commissioner from Spain, failed to swerve the patriot leader from his demand for a recognition of independence, the royalists decided to evacuate the town and to withdraw into the mountainous region of the interior. San Martin, thereupon, entered the capital at the head of his army of liberation and summoned the inhabitants to a town meeting at which they might determine for themselves what action should be taken. The result was easily foreseen. On July 28, 1821, Peru was declared independent, and a few days later San Martin was invested with supreme command under the title of "Protector."

But the triumph of the new Protector did not last long. For some reason he failed to understand that the withdrawal of the royalists from the neighborhood of the coast was merely a strategic retreat that made the occupation of the capital a more or less empty performance. This blunder and a variety of other mishaps proved destined to blight his military career. Unfortunate in the choice of his subordinates and unable to retain their confidence; accused of irresolution and even of cowardice; abandoned by Cochrane, who sailed off to Chile and left the army stranded; incapable of restraining his soldiers from indulgence in the pleasures of Lima; now severe, now lax in an administration that alienated the sympathies of the influential class, San Martin was indeed an unhappy figure. It soon became clear that he must abandon all hope of ever conquering the citadel of Spanish power in South America unless he could prevail upon Bolivar to help him.

A junction of the forces of the two great leaders was perfectly feasible, after the last important foothold of the Spaniards on the coast of Venezuela had been broken by the Battle of Carabobo, on July 24, 1821. Whether such a union would be made, however, depended upon two things: the ultimate disposition of the province of Quito, lying between Colombia and Peru, and the attitude which Bolivar and San Martin themselves should assume toward each other. A revolution of the previous year at the seaport town of Guayaquil in that province had installed an independent government which besought the Liberator to sustain its existence. Prompt to avail himself of so auspicious an opportunity of uniting this former division of the viceroyalty of New Granada to his republic of Colombia, Bolivar appointed Antonio Jose de Sucre, his ablest lieutenant and probably the most efficient of all Spanish American soldiers of the time, to assume charge of the campaign. On his arrival at Guayaquil, this officer found the inhabitants at odds among themselves. Some, hearkening to the pleas of an agent of San Martin, favored union with Peru; others, yielding to the arguments of a representative of Bolivar, urged annexation to Colombia; still others regarded absolute independence as most desirable. Under these circumstances Sucre for a while made little headway against the royalists concentrated in the mountainous parts of the country despite the partial support he received from troops which were sent by the southern commander. At length, on May 24, 1822, scaling the flanks of the volcano of Pichincha, near the capital town of Quito itself, he delivered the blow for freedom. Here Bolivar, who had fought his way overland amid tremendous difficulties, joined him and started for Guayaquil, where he and San Martin were to hold their memorable interview.

No characters in Spanish American history have called forth so much controversy about their respective merits and demerits as these two heroes of independence—Bolivar and San Martin. Even now it seems quite impossible to obtain from the admirers of either an opinion that does full justice to both; and foreigners who venture to pass judgment are almost certain to provoke criticism from one set of partisans or the other. Both Bolivar and San Martin were sons of country gentlemen, aristocratic by lineage and devoted to the cause of independence. Bolivar was alert, dauntless, brilliant, impetuous, vehemently patriotic, and yet often capricious, domineering, vain, ostentatious, and disdainful of moral considerations—a masterful man, fertile in intellect, fluent in speech and with pen, an inspiring leader and one born to command in state and army. Quite as earnest, equally courageous, and upholding in private life a higher standard of morals, San Martin was relatively calm, cautious, almost taciturn in manner, and slower in thought and action. He was primarily a soldier, fitted to organize and conduct expeditions, rather than, a man endowed with that supreme confidence in himself which brings enthusiasm, affection, and loyalty in its train.

When San Martin arrived at Guayaquil, late in July, 1822, his hope of annexing the province of Quito to Peru was rudely shattered by the news that Bolivar had already declared it a part of Colombia. Though it was outwardly cordial and even effusive, the meeting of the two men held out no prospect of accord. In an interchange of views which lasted but a few hours, mutual suspicion, jealousy, and resentment prevented their reaching an effective understanding. The Protector, it would seem, thought the Liberator actuated by a boundless ambition that would not endure resistance. Bolivar fancied San Martin a crafty schemer plotting for his own advancement. They failed to agree on the three fundamental points essential to their further cooperation. Bolivar declined to give up the province of Quito. He refused also to send an army into Peru unless he could command it in person, and then he declined to undertake the expedition on the ground that as President of Colombia he ought not to leave the territory of the republic. Divining this pretext, San Martin offered to serve under his orders—a feint that Bolivar parried by protesting that he would not hear of any such self-denial on the part of a brother officer.

Above all, the two men differed about the political form to be adopted for the new independent states. Both of them realized that anything like genuine democracies was quite impossible of attainment for many years to come, and that strong administrations would be needful to tide the Spanish Americans over from the political inexperience of colonial days and the disorders of revolution to intelligent self-government, which could come only after a practical acquaintance with public concerns on a large scale. San Martin believed that a limited monarchy was the best form of government under the circumstances. Bolivar held fast to the idea of a centralized or unitary republic, in which actual power should be exercised by a life president and an hereditary senate until the people, represented in a lower house, should have gained a sufficient amount of political experience.

When San Martin returned to Lima he found affairs in a worse state than ever. The tyrannical conduct of the officer he had left in charge had provoked an uprising that made his position insupportable. Conscious that his mission had come to an end and certain that, unless he gave way, a collision with Bolivar was inevitable, San Martin resolved to sacrifice himself lest harm befall the common cause in which both had done such yeoman service. Accordingly he resigned his power into the hands of a constituent congress and left the country. But when he found that no happier fortune awaited him in Chile and in his own native land, San Martin decided to abandon Spanish America forever and go into selfimposed exile. Broken in health and spirit, he took up his residence in France, a recipient of bounty from a Spaniard who had once been his comrade in arms.

Meanwhile in the Mexican part of the viceroyalty of New Spain the cry of independence raised by Morelos and his bands of Indian followers had been stifled by the capture and execution of the leader. But the cause of independence was not dead even if its achievement was to be entrusted to other hands. Eager to emulate the example of their brethren in South America, small parties of Spaniards and Creoles fought to overturn the despotic rule of Ferdinand VII, only to encounter defeat from the royalists. Then came the Revolution of 1820 in the mother country. Forthwith demands were heard for a recognition of the liberal regime. Fearful of being displaced from power, the viceroy with the support of the clergy and aristocracy ordered Agustin de Iturbide, a Creole officer who had been an active royalist, to quell an insurrection in the southern part of the country.

The choice of this soldier was unfortunate. Personally ambitious and cherishing in secret the thought of independence, Iturbide, faithless to his trust, entered into negotiations with the insurgents which culminated February 24, 1821, in what was called the "Plan of Iguala." It contained three main provisions, or "guarantees," as they were termed: the maintenance of the Catholic religion to the exclusion of all others; the establishment of a constitutional monarchy separate from Spain and ruled by Ferdinand himself, or, if he declined the honor, by some other European prince; and the union of Mexicans and Spaniards without distinction of caste or privilege. A temporary government also, in the form of a junta presided over by the viceroy, was to be created; and provision was made for the organization of an "Army of the Three Guarantees."

Despite opposition from the royalists, the plan won increasing favor. Powerless to thwart it and inclined besides to a policy of conciliation, the new viceroy, Juan O'Donoju, agreed to ratify it on condition—in obedience to a suggestion from Iturbide—that the parties concerned should be at liberty, if they desired, to choose any one as emperor, whether he were of a reigning family or not. Thereupon, on the 28th of September, the provisional government installed at the city of Mexico announced the consummation of an "enterprise rendered eternally memorable, which a genius beyond all admiration and eulogy, love and glory of his country, began at Iguala, prosecuted and carried into effect, overcoming obstacles almost insuparable"—and declared the independence of a "Mexican Empire." The act was followed by the appointment of a regency to govern until the accession of Ferdinand VII, or some other personage, to the imperial throne. Of this body Iturbide assumed the presidency, which carried with it the powers of commander in chief and a salary of 120,000 pesos, paid from the day on which the Plan of Iguala was signed. O'Donoju contented himself with membership on the board and a salary of one-twelfth that amount, until his speedy demise removed from the scene the last of the Spanish viceroys in North America.

One step more was needed. Learning that the Cortes in Spain had rejected the entire scheme, Iturbide allowed his soldiers to acclaim him emperor, and an unwilling Congress saw itself obliged to ratify the choice. On July 21, 1822, the destinies of the country were committed to the charge of Agustin the First.

As in the area of Mexico proper, so in the Central American part of the viceroyalty of New Spain, the Spanish Revolution of 1820 had unexpected results. Here in the five little provinces composing the captaincy general of Guatemala there was much unrest, but nothing of a serious nature occurred until after news had been brought of the Plan of Iguala and its immediate outcome. Thereupon a popular assembly met at the capital town of Guatemala, and on September 15, 1821, declared the country an independent state. This radical act accomplished, the patriot leaders were unable to proceed further. Demands for the establishment of a federation, for a recognition of local autonomy, for annexation to Mexico, were all heard, and none, except the last, was answered. While the "Imperialists" and "Republicans" were arguing it out, a message from Emperor Agustin announced that he would not allow the new state to remain independent. On submission of the matter to a vote of the cabildos, most of them approved reunion with the northern neighbor. Salvador alone among the provinces held out until troops from Mexico overcame its resistance.

On the continents of America, Spain had now lost nearly all its its possessions. In 1822 the United States had already acquired East Florida on its own account, led off in recognizing the independence of the several republics. Only in Peru and Charcas the royalists still battled on behalf of the mother country. In the West Indies, Santo Domingo followed the lead of its sister colonies on the mainland by asserting in 1821 its independence; but its brief independent life was snuffed out by the negroes of Haiti, once more a republic, who spread their control over the entire island. Cuba also felt the impulse of the times. But, apart from the agitation of secret societies like the "Rays and Suns of Bolivar," which was soon checked, the colony remained tranquil.

In Portuguese America the knowledge of what had occurred throughout the Spanish dominions could not fail to awaken a desire for independence. The Prince Regent was well aware of the discontent of the Brazilians, but he thought to allay it by substantial concessions. In 1815 he proceeded to elevate the colony to substantial equality with the mother country by joining them under the title of "United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves." The next year the Prince Regent himself became King under the name of John IV. The flame of discontent, nevertheless, continued to smolder. Republican outbreaks, though quelled without much difficulty, recurred. Even the reforms which had been instituted by John himself while Regent, and which had assured freer communication with the world at large, only emphasized more and more the absurdity of permitting a feeble little land like Portugal to retain its hold upon a region so extensive and valuable as Brazil.

The events of 1820 in Portugal hastened the movement toward independence. Fired by the success of their Spanish comrades, the Portuguese liberals forthwith rose in revolt, demanded the establishment of a limited monarchy, and insisted that the King return to his people. In similar fashion, also, they drew up a constitution which provided for the representation of Brazil by deputies in a future Cortes. Beyond this they would concede no special privileges to the colony. Indeed their idea seems to have been that, with the King once more in Lisbon, their own liberties would be secure and those of Brazil would be reduced to what were befitting a mere dependency. Yielding to the inevitable, the King decided to return to Portugal, leaving the young Crown Prince to act as Regent in the colony. A critical moment for the little country and its big dominion oversea had indubitably arrived. John understood the trend of the times, for on the eve of his departure he said to his son: "Pedro, if Brazil is to separate itself from Portugal, as seems likely, you take the crown yourself before any one else gets it!"

Pedro was liberal in sentiment, popular among the Brazilians, and well-disposed toward the aspirations of the country for a larger measure of freedom, and yet not blind to the interests of the dynasty of Braganza. He readily listened to the urgent pleas of the leaders of the separatist party against obeying the repressive mandaes of the Cortes. Laws which abolished the central government of the colony and made the various provinces individually subject to Portugal he declined to notice. With equal promptness he refused to heed an order bidding him return to Portugal immediately. To a delegation of prominent Brazilians he said emphatically: "For the good of all and the general welfare of the nation, I shall stay." More than that, in May, 1822, he accepted from the municipality of Rio de Janeiro the title of "Perpetual and Constitutional Defender of Brazil," and in a series of proclamations urged the people of the country to begin the great work of emancipation by forcibly resisting, if needful, any attempt at coercion.

Pedro now believed the moment had come to take the final step. While on a journey through the province of Sao Paulo, he was overtaken on the 7th of September, near a little stream called the Ypiranga, by messengers with dispatches from Portugal. Finding that the Cortes had annulled his acts and declared his ministers guilty of treason, Pedro forthwith proclaimed Brazil an independent state. The "cry of Ypiranga" was echoed with tremendous enthusiasm throughout the country. When Pedro appeared in the theater at Rio de Janeiro, a few days later, wearing on his arm a ribbon on which were inscribed the words "Independence or Death," he was given a tumultuous ovation. On the first day of December the youthful monarch assumed the title of Emperor, and Brazil thereupon took its place among the nations of America.


When the La Plata Congress at Tucuman took the decisive action that severed the bond with Spain, it uttered a prophecy for all Spanish America. To quote its language: "Vast and fertile regions, climates benign and varied, abundant means of subsistence, treasures of gold and silver... and fine productions of every sort will attract to our continent innumerable thousands of immigrants, to whom we shall open a safe place of refuge and extend a beneficent protection." More hopeful still were the words of a spokesman for another independent country: "United, neither the empire of the Assyrians, the Medes or the Persians, the Macedonian or the Roman Empire, can ever be compared with this colossal republic."

Very different was the vision of Bolivar. While a refugee in Jamaica he wrote: "We are a little human species; we possess a world apart... new in almost all the arts and sciences, and yet old, after a fashion, in the uses of civil society.... Neither Indians nor Europeans, we are a species that lies midway .... Is it conceivable that a people recently freed of its chains can launch itself into the sphere of liberty without shattering its wings, like Icarus, and plunging into the abyss? Such a prodigy is inconceivable, never beheld." Toward the close of his career he declared: "The majority are mestizos, mulattoes, Indians, and negroes. An ignorant people is a blunt instrument for its own destruction. To it liberty means license, patriotism means disloyalty, and justice means vengeance." "Independence," he exclaimed, "is the only good we have achieved, at the cost of everything else."

Whether the abounding confidence of the prophecy or the anxious doubt of the vision would come true, only the future could tell. In 1822, at all events, optimism was the watchword and the total exclusion of Spain from South America the goal of Bolivar and his lieutenants, as they started southward to complete the work of emancipation which had been begun by San Martin.

The patriots of Peru, indeed, had fallen into straits so desperate that an appeal to the Liberator offered the only hope of salvation. While the royalists under their able and vigilant leader, Jose Canterac, continued to strengthen their grasp upon the interior of the country and to uphold the power of the viceroy, the President chosen by the Congress had been driven by the enemy from Lima. A number of the legislators in wrath thereupon declared the President deposed. Not to be outdone, that functionary on his part declared the Congress dissolved. The malcontents immediately proceeded to elect a new chief magistrate, thus bringing two Presidents into the field and inaugurating a spectacle destined to become all too common in the subsequent annals of Spanish America.

When Bolivar arrived at Callao, the seaport of Lima, in September, 1823, he acted with prompt vigor. He expelled one President, converted the other into a passive instrument of his will, declined to promulgate a constitution that the Congress had prepared, and, after obtaining from that body an appointment to supreme command, dissolved the Congress without further ado. Unfortunately none of these radical measures had any perceptible effect upon the military situation. Though Bolivar gathered together an army made up of Colombians, Peruvians, and remnants of San Martin's force, many months elapsed before he could venture upon a serious campaign. Then events in Spain played into his hands. The reaction that had followed the restoration of Ferdinand VII to absolute power crossed the ocean and split the royalists into opposing factions. Quick to seize the chance thus afforded, Bolivar marched over the Andes to the plain of Junin. There, on August 6, 1824, he repelled an onslaught by Canterac and drove that leader back in headlong flight. Believing, however, that the position he held was too perilous to risk an offensive, he entrusted the military command to Sucre and returned to headquarters.

The royalists had now come to realize that only a supreme effort could save them. They must overwhelm Sucre before reinforcements could reach him, and to this end an army of upwards of ten thousand was assembled. On the 9th of December it encountered Sucre and his six thousand soldiers in the valley of Ayacucho, or "Corner of Death," where the patriot general had entrenched his army with admirable skill. The result was a total defeat for the royalists—the Waterloo of Spain in South America. The battle thus won by ragged and hungry soldiers—whose countersign the night before had been "bread and cheese"—threw off the yoke of the mother country forever. The viceroy fell wounded into their hands and Canterac surrendered. On receipt of the glorious news, the people of Lima greeted Bolivar with wild enthusiasm. A Congress prolonged his dictatorship amid adulations that bordered on the grotesque.

Eastward of Peru in the vast mountainous region of Charcas, on the very heights of South America, the royalists still found a refuge. In January, 1825, a patriot general at the town of La Paz undertook on his own responsibility to declare the entire province independent, alike of Spain, Peru, and the United Provinces of La Plata. This action was too precipitous, not to say presumptuous, to suit Bolivar and Sucre. The better to control the situation, the former went up to La Paz and the latter to Chuquisaca, the capital, where a Congress was to assemble for the purpose of imparting a more orderly turn to affairs. Under the direction of the "Marshal of Ayacucho," as Sucre was now called, the Congress issued on the 6th of August a formal declaration of independence. In honor of the Liberator it christened the new republic "Bolivar"—later Latinized into "Bolivia"—and conferred upon him the presidency so long as he might choose to remain. In November, 1896, a new Congress which had been summoned to draft a constitution accepted, with slight modifications, an instrument that the Liberator himself had prepared. That body also renamed the capital "Sucre" and chose the hero of Ayacucho as President of the republic.

Now, the Liberator thought, was the opportune moment to impose upon his territorial namesake a constitution embodying his ideas of a stable government which would give Spanish Americans eventually the political experience they needed. Providing for an autocracy represented by a life President, it ran the gamut of aristocracy and democracy, all the way from "censors" for life, who were to watch over the due enforcement of the laws, down to senators and "tribunes" chosen by electors, who in turn were to be named by a select citizenry. Whenever actually present in the territory of the republic, the Liberator was to enjoy supreme command, in case he wished to exercise it.

In 1826 Simon Bolivar stood at the zenith of his glory and power. No adherents of the Spanish regime were left in South America to menace the freedom of its independent states. In January a resistance kept up for nine years by a handful of royalists lodged on the remote island of Chiloe, off the southern coast of Chile, had been broken, and the garrison at the fortress of Callao had laid down its arms after a valiant struggle. Among Spanish Americans no one was comparable to the marvelous man who had founded three great republics stretching from the Caribbean Sea to the Tropic of Capricorn. Hailed as the "Liberator" and the "Terror of Despots," he was also acclaimed by the people as the "Redeemer, the First-Born Son of the New World!" National destinies were committed to his charge, and equestrian statues were erected in his honor. In the popular imagination he was ranked with Napoleon as a peerless conqueror, and with Washington as the father of his country. That megalomania should have seized the mind of the Liberator under circumstances like these is not strange.

Ever a zealous advocate of large states, Bolivar was an equally ardent partisan of confederation. As president of three republics—of Colombia actually, and of its satellites, Peru and Bolivia, through his lieutenants—he could afford now to carry out the plan that he had long since cherished of assembling at the town of Panama, on Colombian soil, an "august congress" representative of the independent countries of America. Here, on the isthmus created by nature to join the continents, the nations created by men should foregather and proclaim fraternal accord. Presenting to the autocratic governments of Europe a solid front of resistance to their pretensions as well as a visible symbol of unity in sentiment, such a Congress by meeting periodically would also promote friendship among the republics of the western hemisphere and supply a convenient means of settling their disputes.

At this time the United States was regarded by its sister republics with all the affection which gratitude for services rendered to the cause of emancipation could evoke. Was it not itself a republic, its people a democracy, its development astounding, and its future radiant with hope? The pronouncement of President Monroe, in 1823, protesting against interference on the part of European powers with the liberties of independent America, afforded the clearest possible proof that the great northern republic was a natural protector, guide, and friend whose advice and cooperation ought to be invoked. The United States was accordingly asked to take part in the assembly—not to concert military measures, but simply to join its fellows to the southward in a solemn proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine by America at large and to discuss means of suppressing the slave trade.

The Congress that met at Panama, in June, 1826, afforded scant encouragement to Bolivar's roseate hope of interAmerican solidarity. Whether because of the difficulties of travel, or because of internal dissensions, or because of the suspicion that the megalomania of the Liberator had awakened in Spanish America, only the four continental countries nearest the isthmus—Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and Peru—were represented. The delegates, nevertheless, signed a compact of "perpetual union, league, and confederation," provided for mutual assistance to be rendered by the several nations in time of war, and arranged to have the Areopagus of the Americas transferred to Mexico. None of the acts of this Congress was ratified by the republics concerned, except the agreement for union, which was adopted by Colombia.

Disheartening to Bolivar as this spectacle was, it proved merely the first of a series of calamities which were to overshadow the later years of the Liberator. His grandiose political structure began to crumble, for it was built on the shifting sands of a fickle popularity. The more he urged a general acceptance of the principles of his autocratic constitution, the surer were his followers that he coveted royal honors. In December he imposed his instrument upon Peru. Then he learned that a meeting in Venezuela, presided over by Paez, had declared itself in favor of separation from Colombia. Hardly had he left Peru to check this movement when an uprising at Lima deposed his representative and led to the summons of a Congress which, in June, 1827, restored the former constitution and chose a new President. In Quito, also, the government of the unstable dictator was overthrown.

Alarmed by symptoms of disaffection which also appeared in the western part of the republic, Bolivar hurried to Bogota. There in the hope of removing the growing antagonism, he offered his "irrevocable" resignation, as he had done on more than one occasion before. Though the malcontents declined to accept his withdrawal from office, they insisted upon his calling a constitutional convention. Meeting at Ocana, in April, 1828, that body proceeded to abolish the life tenure of the presidency, to limit the powers of the executive, and to increase those of the legislature. Bolivar managed to quell the opposition in dictatorial fashion; but his prestige had by this time fallen so low that an attempt was made to assassinate him. The severity with which he punished the conspirators served only to diminish still more the popular confidence which he had once enjoyed. Even in Bolivia his star of destiny had set. An outbreak of Colombian troops at the capital forced the faithful Sucre to resign and leave the country. The constitution was then modified to meet the demand for a less autocratic government, and a new chief magistrate was installed.

Desperately the Liberator strove to ward off the impending collapse. Though he recovered possession of the division of Quito, a year of warfare failed to win back Peru, and he was compelled to renounce all pretense of governing it. Feeble in body and distracted in mind, he condemned bitterly the machinations of his enemies. "There is no good faith in Colombia," he exclaimed, "neither among men nor among nations. Treaties are paper; constitutions, books; elections, combats; liberty, anarchy, and life itself a torment."

But the hardest blow was yet to fall. Late in December, 1829, an assembly at Caracas declared Venezuela a separate state. The great republic was rent in twain, and even what was left soon split apart. In May, 1830, came the final crash. The Congress at Bogota drafted a constitution, providing for a separate republic to bear the old Spanish name of "New Granada," accepted definitely the resignation of Bolivar, and granted him a pension. Venezuela, his native land, set up a congress of its own and demanded that he be exiled. The division of Quito declared itself independent, under the name of the "Republic of the Equator" (Ecuador). Everywhere the artificial handiwork of the Liberator lay in ruins. "America is ungovernable. Those who have served in the revolution have ploughed the sea," was his despairing cry.

Stricken to death, the fallen hero retired to an estate near Santa Marta. Here, like his famous rival, San Martin, in France, he found hospitality at the hands of a Spaniard. On December 17, 1830, the Liberator gave up his troubled soul.

While Bolivar's great republic was falling apart, the United Provinces of La Plata had lost practically all semblance of cohesion. So broad were their notions of liberty that the several provinces maintained a substantial independence of one another, while within each province the caudillos, or partisan chieftains, fought among themselves.

Buenos Aires alone managed to preserve a measure of stability. This comparative peace was due to the financial and commercial measures devised by Bernardino Rivadavia, one of the most capable statesmen of the time, and to the energetic manner in which disorder was suppressed by Juan Manuel de Rosas, commander of the gaucho, or cowboy, militia. Thanks also to the former leader, the provinces were induced in 1826 to join in framing a constitution of a unitary character, which vested in the administration at Buenos Aires the power of appointing the local governors and of controlling foreign affairs. The name of the country was at the same time changed to that of the "Argentine Confederation"(c)-a Latin rendering of "La Plata."

No sooner had Rivadavia assumed the presidency under the new order of things than dissension at home and warfare abroad threatened to destroy all that he had accomplished. Ignoring the terms of the constitution, the provinces had already begun to reject the supremacy of Buenos Aires, when the outbreak of a struggle with Brazil forced the contending parties for a while to unite in the face of the common enemy. As before, the object of international dispute was the region of the Banda Oriental. The rule of Brazil had not been oppressive, but the people of its Cisplatine Province, attached by language and sympathy to their western neighbors, longed nevertheless to be free of foreign control. In April, 1825, a band of thirty-three refugees arrived from Buenos Aires and started a revolution which spread throughout the country. Organizing a provisional government, the insurgents proclaimed independence of Brazil and incorporation with the United Provinces of La Plata. As soon as the authorities at Buenos Aires had approved this action, war was inevitable. Though the Brazilians were decisively beaten at the Battle of Ituzaingo, on February 20, 1827, the struggle lasted until August 28, 1828, when mediation by Great Britain led to the conclusion of a treaty at Rio de Janeiro, by which both Brazil and the Argentine Confederation recognized the absolute independence of the disputed province as the republic of Uruguay.

Instead of quieting the discord that prevailed among the Argentinos, these victories only fomented trouble. The federalists had ousted Rivadavia and discarded the constitution, but the federal idea for which they stood had several meanings. To an inhabitant of Buenos Aires federalism meant domination by the capital, not only over the province of the same name but over the other provinces; whereas, to the people of the provinces, and even to many of federalist faith in the province of Buenos Aires itself, the term stood for the idea of a loose confederation in which each provincial governor or chieftain should be practically supreme in his own district, so long as he could maintain himself. The Unitaries were opponents of both, except in so far as their insistence upon a centralized form of government for the nation would necessarily lead to the location of that government at Buenos Aires. This peculiar dual contest between the town and the province of Buenos Aires, and of the other provinces against either or both, persisted for the next sixty years. In 1829, however, a prolonged lull set in, when Rosas, the gaucho leader, having won in company with other caudillos a decisive triumph over the Unitaries, entered the capital and took supreme command.

In Chile the course of events had assumed quite a different aspect. Here, in 1818, a species of constitution had been adopted by popular vote in a manner that appeared to show remarkable unanimity, for the books in which the "ayes" and "noes" were to be recorded contained no entries in the negative! What the records really prove is that O'Higgins, the Supreme Director, enjoyed the confidence of the ruling class. In exercise of the autocratic power entrusted to him, he now proceeded to introduce a variety of administrative reforms of signal advantage to the moral and material welfare of the country. But as the danger of conquest from any quarter lessened, the demand for a more democratic organization grew louder, until in 1822 it became so persistent that O'Higgins called a convention to draft a new fundamental law. But its provisions suited neither himself nor his opponents. Thereupon, realizing that his views of the political capacity of the people resembled those of Bolivar and were no longer applicable, and that his reforms had aroused too much hostility, the Supreme Director resigned his post and retired to Peru. Thus another hero of emancipation had met the ingratitude for which republics are notorious.

Political convulsions in the country followed the abdication of O'Higgins. Not only had the spirit of the strife between Unitaries and Federalists been communicated to Chile from the neighboring republic to the eastward, but two other parties or factions, divided on still different lines, had arisen. These were the Conservative and the Liberal, or Bigwigs (pelucones) and Greenhorns (pipiolos), as the adherents of the one derisively dubbed the partisans of the other. Although in the ups and downs of the struggle two constitutions were adopted, neither sufficed to quiet the agitation. Not until 1830, when the Liberals sustained an utter defeat on the field of battle, did the country enter upon a period of quiet progress along conservative lines. From that time onward it presented a surprising contrast to its fellow republics, which were beset with afflictions.

Far to the northward, the Empire of Mexico set up by Iturbide in 1822 was doomed to a speedy fall. "Emperor by divine providence," that ambitious adventurer inscribed on his coins, but his countrymen knew that the bayonets of his soldiers were the actual mainstay of his pretentious title. Neither his earlier career nor the size of his following was sufficiently impressive to assure him popular support if the military prop gave way. His lavish expenditures, furthermore, and his arbitrary replacement of the Congress by a docile body which would authorize forced loans at his command, steadily undermined his position. Apart from the faults of Iturbide himself, the popular sentiment of a country bordering immediately upon the United States could not fail to be colored by the ideas and institutions of its great neighbor. So, too, the example of what had been accomplished, in form at least, by their kinsmen elsewhere in America was bound to wield a potent influence on the minds of the Mexicans. As a result, their desire for a republic grew stronger from day to day.

Iturbide, in fact, had not enjoyed his exalted rank five months when Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, a young officer destined later to become a conspicuous figure in Mexican history, started a revolt to replace the "Empire" by a republic. Though he failed in his object, two of Iturbide's generals joined the insurgents in demanding a restoration of the Congress—an act which, as the hapless "Emperor" perceived, would amount to his dethronement. Realizing his impotence, Iturbide summoned the Congress and announced his abdication. But instead of recognizing this procedure, that body declared his accession itself null and void; it agreed, however, to grant him a pension if he would leave the country and reside in Italy. With this disposition of his person Iturbide complied; but he soon wearied of exile and persuaded himself that he would not lack supporters if he tried to regain his former control in Mexico. This venture he decided to make in complete ignorance of a decree ordering his summary execution if he dared to set foot again on Mexican soil. He had hardly landed in July, 1824, when he was seized and shot.

Since a constituent assembly had declared itself in favor of establishing a federal form of republic patterned after that of the United States, the promulgation of a constitution followed on October 4, 1824, and Guadalupe Victoria, one of the leaders in the revolt against Iturbide, was chosen President of the United Mexican States. Though considerable unrest prevailed toward the close of his term, the new President managed to retain his office for the allotted four years. In most respects, however, the new order of things opened auspiciously. In November, 1825, the surrender of the fortress of San Juan de Ulua, in the harbor of Vera Cruz, banished the last remnant of Spanish power, and two years later the suppression of plots for the restoration of Ferdinand VII, coupled with the expulsion of a large number of Spaniards, helped to restore calm. There were those even who dared to hope that the federal system would operate as smoothly in Mexico as it had done in the United States.

But the political organization of a country so different from its northern neighbor in population, traditions, and practices, could not rest merely on a basis of imitation, even more or less modified. The artificiality of the fabric became apparent enough as soon as ambitious individuals and groups of malcontents concerted measures to mold it into a likeness of reality. Two main political factions soon appeared. For the form they assumed British and American influences were responsible. Adopting a kind of Masonic organization, the Conservatives and Centralists called themselves Escoceses (Scottish-Rite Men), whereas the Radicals and Federalists took the name of Yorkinos (York-Rite Men). Whatever their respective slogans and professions of political faith, they were little more than personal followers of rival generals or politicians who yearned to occupy the presidential chair.

Upon the downfall of Iturbide, the malcontents in Central America bestirred themselves to throw off the Mexican yoke. On July 1,1823, a Congress declared the region an independent republic under the name of the "United Provinces of Central America." In November of the next year, following the precedent established in Mexico, and obedient also to local demand, the new republic issued a constitution, in accordance with which the five little divisions of Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica were to become states of a federal union, each having the privilege of choosing its own local authorities. Immediately Federalists and Centralists, Radicals and Conservatives, all wished, it would seem, to impose their particular viewpoint upon their fellows. The situation was not unlike that in the Argentine Confederation. The efforts of Guatemala—the province in which power had been concentrated under the colonial regime—to assert supremacy over its fellow states, and their refusal to respect either the federal bond or one another's rights made civil war inevitable. The struggle which broke out among Guatemala, Salvador, and Honduras, lasted until 1829, when Francisco Morazan, at the head of the "Allied Army, Upholder of the Law," entered the capital of the republic and assumed dictatorial power.

Of all the Hispanic nations, however, Brazil was easily the most stable. Here the leaders, while clinging to independence, strove to avoid dangerous innovations in government. Rather than create a political system for which the country was not prepared, they established a constitutional monarchy. But Brazil itself was too vast and its interior too difficult of access to allow it to become all at once a unit, either in organization or in spirit. The idea of national solidarity had as yet made scant progress. The old rivalry which existed between the provinces of the north, dominated by Bahia or Pernambuco, and those of the south, controlled by Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, still made itself felt. What the Empire amounted to, therefore, was an agglomeration of provinces, held together by the personal prestige of a young monarch.

Since the mother country still held parts of northern Brazil, the Emperor entrusted the energetic Cochrane, who had performed such valiant service for Chile and Peru, with the task of expelling the foreign soldiery. When this had been accomplished and a republican outbreak in the same region had been suppressed, the more difficult task of satisfying all parties by a constitution had to be undertaken. There were partisans of monarchy and advocates of republicanism, men of conservative and of liberal sympathies; disagreements, also, between the Brazilians and the native Portuguese residents were frequent. So far as possible Pedro desired to meet popular desires, and yet without imposing too many limitations on the monarchy itself. But in the assembly called to draft the constitution the liberal members made a determined effort to introduce republican forms. Pedro thereupon dissolved that body and in 1826 promulgated a constitution of his own.

The popularity of the Emperor thereafter soon began to wane, partly because of the scandalous character of his private life, and partly because he declined to observe constitutional restrictions and chose his ministers at will. His insistent war in Portugal to uphold the claims of his daughter to the throne betrayed, or seemed to betray, dynastic ambitions. His inability to hold Uruguay as a Brazilian province, and his continued retention of foreign soldiers who had been employed in the struggle with the Argentine Confederation, for the apparent purpose of quelling possible insurrections in the future, bred much discontent. So also did the restraints he laid upon the press, which had been infected by the liberal movements in neighboring republics. When he failed to subdue these outbreaks, his rule became all the more discredited. Thereupon, menaced by a dangerous uprising at Rio de Janeiro in 1831, he abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Pedro, then five years of age, and set sail for Portugal.

Under the influence of Great Britain the small European mother country had in 1825 recognized the independence of its big transatlantic dominion; but it was not until 1836 that the Cortes of Spain authorized the Crown to enter upon negotiations looking to the same action in regard to the eleven republics which had sprung out of its colonial domain. Even then many years elapsed before the mother country acknowledged the independence of them all.


Independence without liberty and statehood without respect for law are phrases which sum up the situation in Spanish America after the failure of Bolivar's "great design." The outcome was a collection of crude republics, racked by internal dissension and torn by mutual jealousy—patrias bobas, or "foolish fatherlands," as one of their own writers has termed them.

Now that the bond of unity once supplied by Spain had been broken, the entire region which had been its continental domain in America dissolved awhile into its elements. The Spanish language, the traditions and customs of the dominant class, and a "republican" form of government, were practically the sole ties which remained. Laws, to be sure, had been enacted, providing for the immediate or gradual abolition of negro slavery and for an improvement in the status of the Indian and half-caste; but the bulk of the inhabitants, as in colonial times, remained outside of the body politic and social. Though the so-called "constitutions" might confer upon the colored inhabitants all the privileges and immunities of citizens if they could read and write, and even a chance to hold office if they could show possession of a sufficient income or of a professional title of some sort, their usual inability to do either made their privileges illusory. Their only share in public concerns lay in performing military service at the behest of their superiors. Even where the language of the constitutions did not exclude the colored inhabitants directly or indirectly, practical authority was exercised by dictators who played the autocrat, or by "liberators" who aimed at the enjoyment of that function themselves.

Not all the dictators, however, were selfish tyrants, nor all the liberators mere pretenders. Disturbed conditions bred by twenty years of warfare, antique methods of industry, a backward commerce, inadequate means of communication, and a population ignorant, superstitious, and scant, made a strong ruler more or less indispensable. Whatever his official designation, the dictator was the logical successor of the Spanish viceroy or captain general, but without the sense of responsibility or the legal restraint of either. These circumstances account for that curious political phase in the development of the Spanish American nations—the presidential despotism.

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