Gran Colombia

Alice Ye and Alex Kasparian

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Gran Colombia’s existence was brief, only lasting about twelve years. Within that short period of time, many events had occurred as a result of Gran Colombia in South America. First, Bogota, a city in present day Colombia, was seized in 1819. The repercussions of this were very large, as it led to the freedom of New Granada and the formation of Gran Colombia. Another major event of Gran Colombia was the creation of the Constitution of Cucata. It was written to unify all of the territories within Gran Colombia with a democratic government. The Battle of Ayacucho was another major event of Gran Colombia because it was the final battle for South American independence. The patriots, although outnumbered by three thousand men, defeated the Spanish and drove them out of Peru and Bolivia. The last important event of Gran Colombia was the Convention of Ocaña. It signified the fall of Gran Colombia because there was an attempt to assassinate Bolivar, the frontman of Gran Colombia. Gran Colombia, although short-lived, led to the removal of the Spanish in South America and the separation of territories into independent nations.

1819 - The Seize of Bogota

Simon Bolivar had always had his eyes set on Venezula and attempted it a couple of times but each time he failed. He came up with a plan that will involve the death of over a thousand men and crossing the tallest mountain chain in South America, the Andes. Regardless, Bolivar lead his men to victory, siezing Bogota on August 10th of 1918. The plan was to cross the central plains and during the rainy season they would go through the Andes to launch a surprise attack on Bogota. The biggest challenge during the journey was Pisba, standing at 13,000 feet above sea level it showed no mercy, leaving Bolivar horseless and down one thousand men. This did not deterre Bolivar and on August 7th the outnumbered patriots faced the Spanish. Nonetheless, they fought daughtlessly and proved victorious. After the defeat the Spanish fled Bogota, allowing Bolivar to occupy it. This victory freed New Granda and later that year all the provinces of the viceroyalty united together forming Gran Colombia.
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1821 - Constitution of Cucata

The Constitution of Cucata was created to unify the newly free territories by establishing a government. The government was based on popular representation and consisted of a president, a bicameral Congress, and a supreme court which included five magistrates. The Constitution of Cucata is similar to the Declaration of the Right of Man and of the citizen in the sense that they both provided and protected the freedom of the general population. It was very revolutionary, promising the freedom for the children of slaves, freedom of the press, protection policies towards the industry and agricultural, and the abolishment of the mita system of labor.
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1824 - The Battle of Ayacucho

The long battle for independence in South America from the Spanish is said the have ended with this battle. Antonio Jose Sucre, a loyal lieutenant of Simon Bolivar, marched his army through territories no man has ever set foot in. Sucre led his army on the path he planned very carefuly, forging their way through the mountains, they made it to Cerro de Pasco safely in August of 1824. On December 9th of 1824 an army of 6,000 men made up of Chilean, Argentines, Venezuleans, and Colombians marched to the battlefield were they met the army of Spain who outnumbered them by 3,000. It is said that before the battle the soldiers from both opposing sides crossed the battle line to embrace their friends and families. Led by Jose Maria Cordova, the patriots bravely charged at the Spainish killing almost two thousand men instantly. After the crushing defeat the Spanish moved out of Peru and Bolivia.
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1828 - The Convention of Ocaña

Simon Bolivar issued for a constitutional assembly, the Convention of Ocaña, because he was worried that the republic was going to fall apart. It took place on April 9th, 1828. Since there were so many arguments and disagreements, Bolivar felt anguish because he thought that it would inevitably result in anarchy. He was nervous and sent a message to the convention to make a strong, peaceful Colombia. These appeals, though, were exploited against him by Santander. Bolivar wrote to a friend that he’d stop ruling Colombia if it wasn’t not ruled the way he wanted it to. Upon hearing that a constitution against his ideas was drafted, he left. But, he returned to power as per the people's request, only used his power in times of emergency, and took on the name “Libertador Presidente.” He put his enemies into high positions, including Santander as minister of Colombia in Washington. Santander showed gratitude to Bolivar by trying to kill him. He attacked Bolivar's palace on September 25th, 1830. When the conspirators found the palace empty, they moved to the town square and fought there. Since there was so much fighting going on, the people mourned because they thought Bolivar was dead; he was not. He died in the same year of tuberculosis. This was not a step towards democracy because the government was falling apart and became an anarchy.
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The events of Gran Colombia, such as the Seize of Bogota, the Constitution of Cucata, the Battle of Ayacucho, and the Convention of Ocaña, all contributed to the growth of democracy to an extent. The Constitution of Cucata was the main event in Gran Colombia that contributed to democracy. This is because it formed a government based on popular representation and gave the people more rights and reforms in their favor. Although not as contributing as the Constitution, the Seize of Bogota somewhat contributed to democracy. It didn’t as much enforce democracy as it did set the stage for it by unifying territories into a single government. Also, the Convention of Ocaña contributed to democracy at its start. Bolivar wanted democracy, but his ideas were shut down. Gran Colombia greatly contributed to South American history.


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