Latin American Revolutions

By: Anthony A, Karthi L, Genevith S and Diego Q


The Latin American revolutions were a series of revolutions in Central and South America that began in the 18th Century because the people of Latin America wanted to be free from Spain and Brazil. They were influenced by the Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke and Rousseau, and because of this, Latin America would become free.

Simón Bolívar's Revolution

Spain controlled the majority of South America from the time of the age of exploration. The main governmental posts of the colonies were occupied by the Peninsulares, not the Creoles. This resulted in a grudge between the Creoles and the Peninsulares. When Napoleon made his brother the king of Spain, he indirectly made the government unstable in the colonies. This Creoles took advantage of this opportunity. Simón Bolívar, a Creole in Venezuela, was highly influenced by Napoleon. He vowed to liberate the whole of South America. He, along with the other Creoles, conquered Venezuela, Colombia, Peru (including the Panama Canal, which was part of Peru at that time), Ecuador, and Bolivia (a country that was named after Bolívar - it was not a country at that time).

After learning about enlightenment ideas from his tutor, Simón decided to liberate countries so that they didn't have to be loyal to Spain anymore. He conquered Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia; by doing this he created Gran Colombia. When he needed help getting more supplies, he went to Jamaica and with no luck, went to Haiti. In Haiti, their president provided Simón with supplies and in turn, Simón was able to defeat Venezuela. After defeating the countries, he declared himself president for life and in turn, people started to rebel if Simón wasn't watching. He eventually gave up because of the rebels and the fact that he was ill. He died on December 17, 1830. Gran Colombia was then split into the countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

Simón Bolívar's ultimate goal was to liberate the whole of South America. He wanted the South Americans to have a sense of oneness. But unfortunately, he was not able to accomplish his goal. His revolution, however, motivated the South Americans to liberate themselves from Spain and Portugal. His attempt to free South America sparked revolutions in various countries. But they did not unite with themselves to form one single country. They broke up into countries and declared themselves republic. Spain and Portugal were no longer in control of South America colonies.

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Colombian Revolution

In 1810, a man named Antonio Narino, who was very smart, had a lot of political power and wanted independence for Colombia. Antonio Narino had been always fighting against the Spaniards for the rights of the men and woman - he knew that the Spaniards were being unfair to Colombia. He also knew what they were doing with all of the gold and valuable treasures. He could not just go rebel against the king of Spain or the person in charge of the government. He needed a strategy to help him gain points with the people so that he could have more power and a better chance gaining the independence. But Antonio Narino was having some troubles. Until 1810, he actually spent more of his life in jail because of the Spaniards, but not even that stopped him from trying to get the independence of Colombia. When he heard about Spain facing problems because of Napoleon, he figured that it would be the best time to liberate Colombia . He immediately took this opportunity and went to attack Spanish troops in his country with everything he had. But he was starting to lose. Antonio Narino was quickly running out of men when a guy called Símon Bolívar came in all of a sudden. He helped fight back Spanish troops along with Antonio Narino. They eventually liberated Colombia.
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Brazilian Revolution

In 1820, Portugal experienced the Constitutional Revolution, which was caused by the liberal constitutionalists. This revolution led to the Constituent Assembly’s meeting and deciding to create the first constitution of the Kingdom and to demand the return of King Dom João VI from Brazil. On 26 April 1821, the king left Brazil in the hands of his son Prince Pedro, and returned to Portugal. The Portuguese military officers that were based in Brazil at this time sided with the constitutionalist movement in their homeland. General Jorge Avilez, who led the Portuguese military, forced Dom Pedro to dismiss and banish the ministers of Kingdom and Finance. These men had both been loyal to Dom Pedro and the prince was left feeling powerless.In August 1822, Pedro went to São Paulo to ask for loyalty to the Brazilian cause. Upon his return to Rio de Janeiro in September, he received a letter from José Bonifácio letting him that the Cortes had ended all acts from the Bonifácio cabinet and had stripped him of all the power he had. That was the last straw for Pedro. He addressed his friends and Guard of Honour, telling them that any bonds that they had with Portugal were now broken. He told them to remove their blue and white armbands (symbolizing their ties to their Motherland), and said, “Hail to the independence, to freedom and to the separation of Brazil. For my blood, my honour, my God, I swear to give Brazil freedom. Independence or death!”meaning that he would do anything to give Brazil its independence and he managed to do that.Word of the independent Brazil spread quickly, and locals celebrated the stance taken by Dom Pedro. The official breaking of ties occurred on 22 September 1822, when Pedro wrote a letter to his father, João VI. On 12 October 1822, Prince Pedro was acclaimed Dom Pedro I, Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil.

Brazil became a republic based on the U.S governmental model.One third of the slave population in Brazil was enslaved.Most of the Latin American nations decided to end slavery but Brazil didn't end it in till 1888

In Brazil and in other Latin American nations,the liberation movement was influenced by a variety of social,economic and political factors.
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Napoleons's Effects

Around the world, Napoleon had less of a direct impact. He did indirectly impact the Americas in important ways. When his armies conquered Spain and Portugal, they disrupted those countries’ ability to rule their colonies in Central and South America. This helped cause the wars of liberation in those areas in the 1800s. In addition, Napoleon sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States, thus making the US much larger and eventually much more powerful. The nationalism that Napoleon fostered also had its impact in other countries of the world, eventually leading many colonized countries to rebel against their colonial rulers.

Influence of Ideas on Revolutions

As soon as the Enlightenment started, old ideas such as absolutism became a thing of the past. With our new “enlightenment thinkers” ideas such as separation of powers and equality came into play. These ideas encouraged “the people” to start taking control of their government and in turn, made revolutions and revolts happen. For example: When Wollstonecraft came up with equality for women, the women of that time started to change their ideas of how things worked, and in effect revolt started to happen. Every single enlightenment thinker caused some type of revolution, good or bad. Constitutionalism and nationalism are portrayed by all of these thinkers as well. Constitutionalism is a government with a constitution and Nationalism is a government that is tightly woven with their nation.

How "The People" are Involved

People in those days didn't have a lot of power over the government. They were not allowed to vote just like many other countries in those days. The men could vote or at least have an opinion. Sometimes the government would have the total power. People who thought the government was wrong would have secret meetings and tea parties (in the modern era), discussing about rebellions and revolutions.

Rights/Responsibilities of citizens

Throughout history, only kings, priests, aristocrats and other elites participated in government affairs. The other citizens (merchants and artisans) did not really have any civic responsibilities other than paying taxes. They were not allowed to have government jobs. They were also not allowed to participate in government affairs. Their rights were limited.

The noncitizens were usually servants and slaves. They had no rights. They had to work for aristocrats and landlords. Generally, the slaves were regarded as property.

Over time, many people began to develop different ideas of society. But only a few thinkers were able to successfully inspire people. One such period of time when ideas caused shifting of political thought is the enlightenment. Enlightenments thinkers (philosophes) such as Voltaire (separation of the Church and state) , Montesquieu (three branches of government), Wollstonecraft (both men and women were required to create an ideal society), Locke (right to life, liberty, and property) and Rousseau (social contract) were some people who were successful in making changes to the society.

Enlightenment Influence as a Whole

The Enlightenment directly/indirectly influenced the Latin American Revolutions. When Bolívar was a student, his teacher told him about all of the enlightenment thinkers, this influenced him greatly in freeing Latin America. Another example would be how Locke influenced America, and America influenced Latin America to rebel. The Latin American revolutions resulted in Peninsulares going back to Europe and the Creoles making the colonies (countries) independent. The Enlightenment is responsible for altering the social and political structure of Latin America as well.

Extra Review

Latin American Revolutions: Crash Course World History #31


"Simón Bolívar." DISCovering Biography. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resources in Context. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.

"Simón Bolívar." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Student Resources in Context. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.

"Revolutions in Latin America (Overview)." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.

"independence of Brazil." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2015. Web. 25 Mar. 2015.