The Spanish American wars of independence were the numerous wars against Spanish rule in Spanish America with the aim of political independence that took place during the early 19th century, after the French invasion of Spain during Europe's Napoleonic Wars. Although there has been research on the idea of a separate Spanish American ("creole") identity separate from that of Iberia, political independence was not initially the aim of most Spanish Americans, nor was it necessarily inevitable. After the restoration of rule by Ferdinand VII in 1814, and his rejection of the Spanish liberal constitution of 1812, the monarchy as well as liberals hardened their stance toward its overseas possessions, and they in turn increasingly sought political independence.
The violent conflicts started in 1809 with short-lived governing juntas established in Chuquisaca and Quito in opposing the government of the Supreme Central Junta of Seville. In 1810, numerous new juntas appeared across the Spanish domains in the Americas when the Central Junta fell to the French invasion. Although various regions of Spanish America objected to many crown policies, "there was little interest in outright independence; indeed there was widespread support for the Spanish Central Junta formed to lead the resistance against the French." While some Spanish Americans believed that independence was necessary, most who initially supported the creation of the new governments saw them as a means to preserve the region's autonomy from the French. Over the course of the next decade, the political instability in Spain and the absolutist restoration under Ferdinand VII convinced many Spanish Americans of the need to formally establish independence from the mother country.
These conflicts were fought both as irregular warfare and conventional warfare, and as wars of national liberation and civil wars. The conflicts among the colonies and with Spain eventually resulted in a chain of newly independent countries stretching from Argentina and Chile in the south to Mexico in the north in the first third of the 19th century. Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule until the Spanish–American War in 1898. The new republics from the beginning abolished the formal system of racial classification and hierarchy, casta system, the Inquisition, and noble titles. Slavery was not abolished immediately but ended in all of the new nations within a quarter century. Criollos (those of Spanish descent born in the New World) and mestizos (those of mixed American Indian and Spanish blood or culture) replaced Spanish-born appointees in most political governments. Criollos remained at the top of a social structure that retained some of its traditional features culturally, if not legally. For almost a century thereafter, conservatives and liberals fought to reverse or to deepen the social and political changes unleashed by those rebellions.
The events in Spanish America were related to the wars of independence in the former French colony of St-Domingue, Haiti, and the transition to independence in Brazil. Brazil's independence, in particular, shared a common starting point with that of Spanish America, since both conflicts were triggered by Napoleon's invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, which forced the Portuguese royal family to flee to Brazil in 1807. The process of Latin American independence took place in the general political and intellectual climate that emerged from the Age of Enlightenment and that influenced all of the Atlantic Revolutions, including the earlier revolutions in the United States and France. A more direct cause of the Spanish American wars of independence were the unique developments occurring within the Kingdom of Spain and its monarchy during this era.
|Spanish American Wars of Independence|
|Part of the Latin American wars of independence|
Decisive events of the war: Cortes de Cádiz (1812) (top left); Congress of Cúcuta (1821) (bottom left); Crossing of the Andes (1817) (bottom right); Battle of Tampico (1829) (top right).
Military support:United Kingdom (1815-1819)[Note H]
|Spain: 44,400 soldiers (total deployment)||Unknown|
|Casualties and losses|
|34,400 Spanish||570,000 dead|
Political independence was not necessarily the foreordained outcome of the political turmoil in Spanish America. "There was little interest in outright independence." As historians R.A. Humphreys and John Lynch note, "it is all too easy to equate the forces of discontent or even the forces of change with the forces of revolution." Since "by definition, there was no history of independence until it happened," when Spanish American independence did occur, explanations for why it came about have been sought.
There are a number of factors that have been identified. First, increasing control by the Crown of its overseas empire via the Bourbon Reforms of the mid-eighteenth century introduced changes to the relationship of Spanish Americans to the Crown. The language used to describe the overseas empire shifted from "kingdoms" with independent standing with the crown to "colonies" subordinate to Spain. In an effort to better control the administration and economy of the overseas possessions the Crown reintroduced the practice of appointing outsiders, almost all peninsulars, to the royal offices throughout the empire. This meant that Spanish American elites were thwarted in their expectations and ambitions by the crown's upending of long-standing practices of creole access to office holding.
The regalist and secularizing policies of the Bourbon monarchy were aimed at decreasing the power of the Roman Catholic Church. The crown had already expelled the Jesuits in 1767, which saw many creole members of the Society of Jesus go into permanent exile. Later in the eighteenth century the crown sought to decrease the privileges (fueros) of the clergy, restricting clerical authority to spiritual matters and undermining the power of parish priests, who often acted as agents of the crown in rural parishes. By desacralizing power and frontal attacks on the clergy, the crown, according to William B. Taylor, undermined its own legitimacy, since parish priests had been traditionally the "natural local representatives of their Catholic king."
In the economic sphere, the crown sought to gain control over church revenues. In a financial crisis of 1804, the crown attempted to call in debts owed the church, mainly in the form of mortgages for haciendas owned by the elites. The Act of Consolidation simultaneously threatened the wealth of the church, whose capital was mainly lent for mortgages, as well as threatening the financial well-being of elites, who depended on mortgages for acquiring and keeping their estates. Shortening the repayment period meant many elites were faced with bankruptcy. The crown also sought to gain access to benefices elite families set aside to support a priest, often their own family members, by eliminating these endowed funds (capellanías) that the lower clergy depended on disproportionately. Prominently in Mexico, lower clergy participated in the insurgency for independence with priests Miguel Hidalgo and José María Morelos.
The reforms had mixed results. In some areas—such as Cuba, Río de la Plata and New Spain—the reforms had positive effects, improving the local economy and the efficiency of the government. In other areas, the changes in the crown's economic and administrative policies led to tensions with locals, which at times erupted into open revolts, such as the Revolt of the Comuneros in New Granada and the Rebellion of Túpac Amaru II in Peru.
The loss of high offices to Criollos and the eighteenth-century revolts in Spanish South America were the direct causes of the wars of independence, which took place decades later, but they have been considered important elements of the political background in which the wars took place.
Other factors may include Enlightenment thinking and the examples of the Atlantic Revolutions. The Enlightenment spurred the desire for social and economic reform to spread throughout Spanish America and the Iberian Peninsula. Ideas about free trade and physiocratic economics were raised by the Enlightenment in Spain and spread to the overseas empire and a homegrown Spanish American Enlightenment. The political reforms implemented and the many constitutions written both in Spain and throughout the Spanish world during the wars of independence were influenced by these factors.
The Peninsular War was the trigger for conflicts in Spanish America in the absence of a legitimate monarch. The Peninsular War began an extended period of instability in the worldwide Spanish monarchy that lasted until 1823. Napoleon's capture of the Bourbon monarchs precipitated a political crisis in Spain and Spanish America. Although the Spanish world almost uniformly rejected Napoleon's plan to place his brother, Joseph, on the throne, there was no clear solution to the lack of a king. Following traditional Spanish political theories on the contractual nature of the monarchy (see Philosophy of Law of Francisco Suárez), the peninsular provinces responded to the crisis by establishing juntas. The move, however, led to more confusion, since there was no central authority and most juntas did not recognize the claim of some juntas to represent the monarchy as a whole. The Junta of Seville, in particular, claimed authority over the overseas empire, because of the province's historic role as the exclusive entrepôt of the empire.
This impasse was resolved through negotiations between the several juntas in Spain counted with the participation of the Council of Castile, which led to the creation of a main government: the "Supreme Central and Governmental Junta of Spain and the Indies" on September 25, 1808. It was agreed that the kingdoms of the peninsula would send two representatives to this Supreme Central Junta, and that the overseas kingdoms would send one representative each. These kingdoms were defined as "the viceroyalties of New Spain (Mexico), Peru, New Granada, and Buenos Aires, and the independent captaincies general of the island of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Chile, Province of Venezuela, and the Philippines." This plan was criticized for providing unequal representation to Spanish America; nevertheless, throughout the end of 1808 and early 1809, the regional capitals elected candidates, whose names were forwarded to the capitals of the viceroyalties or captaincies general. Several important and large cities were left without direct representation in the Supreme Junta. In particular Quito and Chuquisaca, which saw themselves as the capitals of kingdoms, resented being subsumed in the larger Viceroyalty of Peru. This unrest led to the establishment of juntas in these cities in 1809, which were eventually quashed by the authorities within the year. An unsuccessful attempt at establishing a junta in New Spain was also stopped.
The escape to Cádiz and the dissolution of the Supreme Central Junta on January 29, 1810, because of the reverses suffered after the Battle of Ocaña by the Spanish forces paid with Spanish American money, set off another wave of juntas being established in the Americas. French forces had taken over southern Spain and forced the Supreme Junta to seek refuge in the island-city of Cádiz.
The Supreme Junta replaced itself with a smaller, five-man council, called the Regency, or the Council of Regency of Spain and the Indies. Next, in order to establish a more legitimate government system, the Regency called for the convening of an "extraordinary and general Cortes of the Spanish Nation": the "Cádiz Cortes". The plan for the election of the Cortes, based on provinces, and not kingdoms, was more equitable and provided more time to determine what would be considered an overseas province. The Cádiz Cortes was the first national assembly to claim sovereignty in Spain. It represented the abolition of the old kingdoms. The opening session was held on 24 September 1810, in the building now known as the Real Teatro de las Cortes under the siege of French army. It met as one body and its members represented the entire Spanish empire.
Most Spanish Americans saw no reason to recognize a rump government that was under the threat of being captured by the French at any moment, and began to work for the creation of local juntas to preserve the region's independence from the French. Junta movements were successful in New Granada (Colombia), Venezuela, Chile and Río de la Plata (Argentina). Less successful, though serious movements, also occurred in Central America. Ultimately, Central America, along with most of New Spain, Quito (Ecuador), Peru, Upper Peru (Bolivia), the Caribbean and the Philippine Islands remained in control of royalists for the next decade and participated in the Spanish Cortes effort to establish a liberal government for the Spanish Monarchy.
The creation of juntas in Spanish America, such as the Junta Suprema de Caracas on April 19, 1810, set the stage for the fighting that would afflict the region for the next decade and a half. Political fault lines appeared, and were often the causes of military conflict. On the one hand the juntas challenged the authority of all royal officials, whether they recognized the Regency or not. On the other hand, royal officials and Spanish Americans who desired to keep the empire together were split between liberals, who supported the efforts of the Cortes, and conservatives (often called "absolutists" in the historiography), who did not want to see any innovations in government. Finally, although the juntas claimed to carry out their actions in the name of the deposed king, Ferdinand VII, their creation provided an opportunity for people who favored outright independence to promote their agenda publicly and safely. The proponents of independence called themselves patriots, a term which eventually was generally applied to them.
The idea that independence was not the initial concern is evidenced by the fact that few areas declared independence in the years after 1810. The congresses of Venezuela and New Granada did so in 1811 and also Paraguay in same year (14 and 15 of May 1811). Some historians explain the reluctance to declare independence as a "mask of Ferdinand VII": that is, that patriot leaders felt that they needed to claim loyalty to the deposed monarch in order to prepare the masses for the radical change that full independence eventually would entail. Nevertheless, even areas such as Río de la Plata and Chile, which more or less maintained de facto independence from the peninsular authorities, did not declare independence until quite a few years later, in 1816 and 1818, respectively. Overall, despite achieving formal or de facto independence, many regions of Spanish America were marked by nearly continuous civil wars, which lasted well into the 1820s. In Mexico, where the junta movement had been stopped in its early stages by a coalition of Peninsular merchants and government officials, efforts to establish a government independent of the Regency or the French took the form of rebellion, under the leadership of Miguel Hidalgo. Hidalgo was captured and executed in 1811, but a resistance movement continued, which declared independence from Spain in 1813. In Central America, attempts at establishing juntas were also put down, but resulted in significantly less violence. The Caribbean islands, like the Philippines on the other side of the world, were relatively peaceful. Any plots to set up juntas were denounced to the authorities early enough to stop them before they gained widespread support.
Major cities and regional rivalry played an important role in the wars. The disappearance of a central, imperial authority—and in some cases of even a local, viceregal authority (as in the cases of New Granada and Río de la Plata)—initiated a prolonged period of balkanization in many regions of Spanish America. It was not clear which political units should replace the empire, and there were no new national identities to replace the traditional sense of being Spaniards. The original juntas of 1810 appealed first to a sense of being Spanish, which was counterposed to the French threat; second, to a general American identity, which was counterposed to the Peninsula lost to the French; and third, to a sense of belonging to the major cities or local province, the patria in Spanish. More often than not, juntas sought to maintain a province's independence from the capital of the former viceroyalty or captaincy general as much as from the Peninsula itself. Armed conflicts broke out between the provinces over the question of whether some cities or provinces were to be subordinate to others as they had been under the crown. This phenomenon was particularly evident in South America. This rivalry also led some regions to adopt the opposite political cause to that chosen by their rivals. Peru seems to have remained strongly royalist in large part because of its rivalry with Río de la Plata, to which it had lost control of Upper Peru when the latter was elevated to a viceroyalty in 1776. The creation of juntas in Río de la Plata allowed Peru to regain formal control of Upper Peru for the duration of the wars.
Underlying social and racial tensions also had a great impact on the nature of the fighting. Rural areas were pitted against urban centers, as grievances against the authorities found an outlet in the political conflict. This was the case with Hidalgo's peasant revolt, which was fueled as much by discontent over several years of bad harvests as with events in the Peninsular War. Hidalgo was originally part of a circle of liberal urbanites in Querétaro, who sought to establish a junta. After this conspiracy was discovered, Hidalgo turned to the rural people of the Mexican Bajío to build his army, and their interests soon overshadowed those of the urban intellectuals. A similar tension existed in Venezuela, where the Spanish immigrant José Tomás Boves formed a powerful, though irregular, royalist army out of the Llaneros, mixed-race slave and plains people, by attacking the white landowning class. Boves and his followers often disregarded the command of Spanish officials and were not concerned with actually re-establishing the toppled royal government, choosing instead to keep real power among themselves. Finally, in the back country of Upper Peru, the republiquetas kept the idea of independence alive by allying with disenfranchised members of rural society and native groups, but were never able to take the major population centers.
Increasingly violent confrontations developed between Spaniards and Spanish Americans, but this tension was often related to class issues or fomented by patriot leaders to create a new sense of nationalism. After being incited to rid the country of the gachupines (a disparaging term for Peninsulares), Hidalgo's forces indiscriminately massacred hundreds of Criollos and Peninsulares who had taken refuge at the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in Guanajuato. In Venezuela during his Admirable Campaign, Simón Bolívar instituted a policy of a war to the death, in which royalist Spanish Americans would be purposely spared but even neutral Peninsulares would be killed, in order to drive a wedge between the two groups. This policy laid the ground for the violent royalist reaction under Boves. Often though, royalism or patriotism simply provided a banner to organize the aggrieved, and the political causes could be discarded just as quickly as they were picked up. The Venezuelan Llaneros switched to the patriot banner once the elites and the urban centers became securely royalist after 1815, and it was the royal army in Mexico that ultimately brought about that nation's independence.
By 1815 the general outlines of which areas were controlled by royalists and pro-independence forces were established and a general stalemate set in the war. In areas where royalists controlled the main population centers, most of the fighting by those seeking independence was done by isolated guerrilla bands. In New Spain, the two main guerrilla groups were led by Guadalupe Victoria in Puebla and Vicente Guerrero in Oaxaca. In northern South America, New Granadan and Venezuelan patriots, under leaders such as Simón Bolívar, Francisco de Paula Santander, Santiago Mariño, Manuel Piar and José Antonio Páez, carried out campaigns in the vast Orinoco River basin and along the Caribbean coast, often with material aid coming from Curaçao and Haiti. Also, as mentioned above, in Upper Peru, guerrilla bands controlled the isolated, rural parts of the country.
In March 1814, following with the collapse of the First French Empire, Ferdinand VII was restored to the Spanish throne. This signified an important change, since most of the political and legal changes made on both sides of the Atlantic—the myriad of juntas, the Cortes in Spain and several of the congresses in the Americas, and many of the constitutions and new legal codes—had been made in his name. Before entering Spanish territory, Ferdinand made loose promises to the Cortes that he would uphold the Spanish Constitution. But once in Spain he realized that he had significant support from conservatives in the general population and the hierarchy of the Spanish Catholic Church; so, on May 4, he repudiated the Constitution and ordered the arrest of liberal leaders on May 10. Ferdinand justified his actions by stating that the Constitution and other changes had been made by a Cortes assembled in his absence and without his consent. He restored the former legal codes and political institutions and promised to convene a new Cortes under its traditional form (with separate chambers for the clergy and the nobility), a promise never fulfilled. News of the events arrived through Spanish America during the next three weeks to nine months, depending on time it took goods and people to travel from Spain.
Ferdinand's actions constituted a definitive de facto break both with the autonomous governments, which had not yet declared formal independence, and with the effort of Spanish liberals to create a representative government that would fully include the overseas possessions. Such a government was seen as an alternative to independence by many in New Spain, Central America, the Caribbean, Quito, Peru, Upper Peru and Chile. Yet the news of the restoration of the "ancien régime" did not initiate a new wave of juntas, as had happened in 1809 and 1810, with the notable exception of the establishment of a junta in Cuzco demanding the implementation of the Spanish Constitution. Instead most Spanish Americans were moderates who decided to wait and see what would come out of the restoration of normalcy. In fact, in areas of New Spain, Central America and Quito, governors found it expedient to leave the elected constitutional ayuntamientos in place for several years in order to prevent conflict with the local society. Liberals on both sides of the Atlantic, nevertheless, continued to conspire to bring back a constitutional monarchy, ultimately succeeding in 1820. The most dramatic example of transatlantic collaboration is perhaps Francisco Javier Mina's expedition to Texas and northern Mexico in 1816 and 1817.
Spanish Americans in royalist areas who were committed to independence had already joined the guerrilla movements. However, Ferdinand's actions did set areas outside of the control of the crown on the path to full independence. The governments of these regions, which had their origins in the juntas of 1810, and even moderates there, who had entertained a reconciliation with the crown, now saw the need to separate from Spain if they were to protect the reforms they had enacted.
During this period, royalist forces made advances into New Granada, which they controlled from 1815 to 1819, and into Chile, which they controlled from 1814 to 1817. Except for royalist areas in the northeast and south, the provinces of New Granada had maintained independence from Spain since 1810, unlike neighboring Venezuela, where royalists and pro-independence forces had exchanged control of the region several times. To pacify Venezuela and to retake New Granada, Spain organized in 1815 the largest armed force it ever sent to the New World, consisting of 10,500 troops and nearly sixty ships. (See, Spanish reconquest of New Granada.) Although this force was crucial in retaking a solidly pro-independence region like New Granada, its soldiers were eventually spread out throughout Venezuela, New Granada, Quito, and Peru and were lost to tropical diseases, diluting their impact on the war. More importantly, the majority of the royalist forces were composed, not of soldiers sent from the peninsula, but of Spanish Americans.
Overall, Europeans formed only about a tenth of the royalist armies in Spanish America, and only about half of the expeditionary units, once they were deployed in the Americas. Since each European soldier casualty was replaced by a Spanish American soldier, over time, there were more and more Spanish American soldiers in the expeditionary units. For example, Pablo Morillo, commander in chief of the expeditionary force sent to South America, reported that he had only 2,000 European soldiers under his command in 1820; in other words, only half the soldiers of his expeditionary force were European. It is estimated that in the Battle of Maipú only a quarter of the royalist forces were European soldiers, in the Battle of Carabobo about a fifth, and in the Battle of Ayacucho less than 1% was European.
Towards the end of this period the pro-independence forces made two important advances. In the Southern Cone, a veteran of the Spanish army with experience in the Peninsular War, José de San Martín, became the governor of the Province of Cuyo. He used this position to begin organizing an army as early as 1814 in preparation for an invasion of Chile. This was an important change in strategy after three United Provinces campaigns had been defeated in Upper Peru. San Martín's army became the nucleus of the Army of the Andes, which received crucial political and material support in 1816 when Juan Martín de Pueyrredón became Supreme Director of the United Provinces. In January 1817, San Martín was finally ready to advance against the royalists in Chile. Ignoring an injunction from the congress of the Río de la Plata not to move against Chile, San Martín together with General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme, later Supreme Director of Chile, led the Army over the Andes in a move that turned the tables on the royalists. By February 10, San Martín had control of northern and central Chile, and a year later, after a war with no quarter, the south. With the aid of a fleet under the command of former British naval officer Thomas Cochrane, Chile was secured from royalist control and independence was declared that year. San Martín and his allies spent the next two years planning an invasion of Peru, which began in 1820.
In northern South America, after several failed campaigns to take Caracas and other urban centers of Venezuela, Simón Bolívar devised a similar plan in 1819 to cross the Andes and liberate New Granada from the royalists. Like San Martín, Bolívar personally undertook the efforts to create an army to invade a neighboring country, collaborated with pro-independence exiles from that region, and lacked the approval of the Venezuelan congress. Unlike San Martín, however, Bolívar did not have a professionally trained army, but rather a quickly assembled mix of Llanero guerrillas, New Granadan exiles led by Santander and British recruits. From June to July 1819, using the rainy season as cover, Bolívar led his army across the flooded plains and over the cold, forbidding passes of the Andes, with heavy losses—a quarter of the British Legion perished, as well as many of his Llanero soldiers, who were not prepared for the nearly 4,000-meter altitudes—but the gamble paid off. By August Bolívar was in control of Bogotá and its treasury, and gained the support of many in New Granada, which still resented the harsh reconquest carried out under Morillo. Nevertheless, Santander found it necessary to continue the policy of the "war to the death" and carried out the execution of thirty-eight royalist officers who had surrendered. With the resources of New Granada, Bolívar became the undisputed leader of the patriots in Venezuela and orchestrated the union of the two regions in a new state called Colombia (Gran Colombia).
To counter the advances the pro-independence forces had made in South America, Spain prepared a second, large, expeditionary force in 1819. This force, however, never left Spain. Instead, it became the means by which liberals were finally able to reinstate a constitutional regime. On January 1, 1820, Rafael Riego, commander of the Asturias Battalion, headed a rebellion among the troops, demanding the return of the 1812 Constitution. His troops marched through the cities of Andalusia with the hope of extending the uprising to the civilian population, but locals were mostly indifferent. An uprising, however, did occur in Galicia in northern Spain, and from there it quickly spread throughout the country. On March 7, the royal palace in Madrid was surrounded by soldiers under the command of General Francisco Ballesteros, and three days later, on March 10, the besieged Ferdinand VII, now a virtual prisoner, agreed to restore the Constitution.
Riego's Revolt had two significant effects on the war in the Americas. Militarily, the large numbers of reinforcements, which were especially needed to retake New Granada and defend the Viceroyalty of Peru, would never arrive. Furthermore, as the royalists' situation became more desperate in region after region, the army experienced wholesale defections of units to the patriot side. Politically, the reinstitution of a liberal regime changed the terms under which the Spanish government sought to engage the insurgents. The new government naively assumed that the insurgents were fighting for Spanish liberalism and that the Spanish Constitution could still be the basis of reconciliation between the two sides. The government implemented the Constitution and held elections in the overseas provinces, just as in Spain. It also ordered military commanders to begin armistice negotiations with the insurgents with the promise that they could participate in the restored representative government.
In effect, the Spanish Constitution of 1812 adopted by the Cortes de Cadiz served as the basis for independence in New Spain and Central America, since in both regions it was a coalition of conservative and liberal royalist leaders who led the establishment of new states. The restoration of the Spanish Constitution and representative government was enthusiastically welcomed in New Spain and Central America. Elections were held, local governments formed and deputies sent to the Cortes. Among liberals, however, there was fear that the new regime would not last; and conservatives and the Church worried that the new liberal government would expand its reforms and anti-clerical legislation. This climate of instability created the conditions for the two sides to forge an alliance. This alliance coalesced towards the end of 1820 behind Agustín de Iturbide, a colonel in the royal army, who at the time was assigned to destroy the guerrilla forces led by Vicente Guerrero.
In January 1821, Iturbide began peace negotiations with Guerrero, suggesting they unite to establish an independent New Spain. The simple terms that Iturbide proposed became the basis of the Plan of Iguala: the independence of New Spain (now to be called the Mexican Empire) with Ferdinand VII or another Bourbon as emperor; the retention of the Catholic Church as the official state religion and the protection of its existing privileges; and the equality of all New Spaniards, whether immigrants or native-born. The following month the other important guerrilla leader, Guadalupe Victoria, joined the alliance, and on March 1 Iturbide was proclaimed head of a new Army of the Three Guarantees. The representative of the new Spanish government, Superior Political Chief Juan O'Donojú, who replaced the previous viceroys, arrived in Veracruz on July 1, 1821, but he found that royalists held the entire country except for Veracruz, Mexico City and Acapulco. Since at the time that O'Donojú had left Spain, the Cortes was considering greatly expanding the autonomy of the overseas Spanish possessions, O'Donojú proposed to negotiate a treaty with Iturbide on the terms of the Plan of Iguala. The resulting Treaty of Córdoba, which was signed on August 24, kept all existing laws, including the 1812 Constitution, in force until a new constitution for Mexico could be written. O'Donojú became part of the provisional governing junta until his death on October 8. Both the Spanish Cortes and Ferdinand VII rejected the Treaty of Córdoba, and the final break with the mother country came on May 19, 1822, when the Mexican Congress conferred the throne on Iturbide.
Central America gained its independence along with New Spain. On September 15, 1821, an Act of Independence was signed in Guatemala City which declared Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica) independent from Spain. The regional elites supported the terms of the Plan of Iguala and orchestrated the union of Central America with the Mexican Empire in 1821. Two years later, following Iturbide's downfall, the region, with the exception of Chiapas, peacefully seceded from Mexico on July 1, 1823, establishing the Federal Republic of Central America. The new state existed for seventeen years, centrifugal forces pulling the individual provinces apart by 1840.
Unlike in New Spain and Central America, in South America independence was spurred by the pro-independence fighters who had held out for the past half decade. José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar inadvertently led a continent-wide pincer movement from southern and northern South America that liberated most of the Spanish American nations on that continent. After securing the independence of Chile in 1818, San Martín concentrated on building a naval fleet in the Pacific to counter Spanish control of those waters and reach the royalist stronghold of Lima. By mid-1820 San Martín had assembled a fleet of eight warships and sixteen transport ships under the command of Admiral Cochrane. The fleet set sail from Valparaíso to Paracas in southern Peru. On September 7, the army landed at Paracas and successfully took Pisco. After this, San Martín, waiting for a generalized Peruvian revolt, chose to avoid direct military confrontation. San Martín hoped that his presence would initiate an authentic Peruvian revolt against Spanish rule, believing that otherwise any liberation would be ephemeral. In the meantime, San Martín engaged in diplomacy with Viceroy Joaquín de la Pezuela, who was under orders from the constitutional government to negotiate on the basis of the 1812 Constitution and to maintain the unity of the Spanish Monarchy. However, these efforts proved fruitless, since independence and unity of the monarchy could not be reconciled, so the army sailed in late October to a better strategic position in Huacho, in northern Peru. During the next few months, successful land and naval campaigns against the royalists secured the new foothold, and it was at Huacho that San Martín learned that Guayaquil (in Ecuador) had declared independence on October 9.
Bolívar, learning about the collapse of the Cádiz expedition, spent the year 1820 preparing a liberating campaign in Venezuela. Bolívar was aided by Spain's new policy of seeking engagement with the insurgents, which Morillo implemented, renouncing to the command in chief, and returning to Spain. Although Bolívar rejected the Spanish proposal that the patriots rejoin Spain under the Spanish Constitution, the two sides established a six-month truce and the regularization of the rules of engagement under the law of nations on November 25 and 26. The truce did not last six months. It was apparent to all that the royalist cause had been greatly weakened by the lack of reinforcements. Royalist soldiers and whole units began to desert or defect to the patriots in large numbers. On January 28, 1821, the ayuntamiento of Maracaibo declared the province an independent republic that chose to join the new nation-state of Gran Colombia. Miguel de la Torre, who had replaced Morillo as head of the army, took this to be a violation of the truce, and although the republicans argued that Maracaibo had switched sides of its own volition, both sides began to prepare for renewed war. The fate of Venezuela was sealed when Bolívar returned there in April leading an army of 7,000 from New Granada. At the Battle of Carabobo on June 24, the Gran Colombian forces decisively defeated the royalist forces, assuring control of Venezuela save for Puerto Cabello and guaranteeing Venezuelan independence. Bolívar could now concentrate on Gran Colombia's claims to southern New Granada and Quito.
In Peru, on January 29, 1821, Viceroy Pezuela was deposed in a coup d'état by José de la Serna, but it would be two months before San Martín moved his army closer to Lima by sailing it to Ancón. During the next few months San Martín once again engaged in negotiations, offering the creation of an independent monarchy; but La Serna insisted on the unity of the Spanish monarchy, so the negotiations came to nothing. By July La Serna judged his hold on Lima to be weak, and on July 8 the royal army abandoned the coastal city in order to reinforce positions in the highlands, with Cuzco as new capital of the viceroyalty. On the 12th San Martín entered Lima, where he was declared "Protector of the Country" on July 28, an office which allowed him to rule the newly independent state.
To ensure that the Presidency of Quito became a part of Gran Colombia and did not remain a collection of small, divided republics, Bolívar sent aid in the form of supplies and an army under Antonio José de Sucre to Guayaquil in February 1821. For a year Sucre was unable to take Quito, and by November both sides, exhausted, signed a ninety-day armistice. The following year, at the Battle of Pichincha on May 24, 1822, Sucre's Venezuelan forces finally conquered Quito; Gran Colombia's hold on the territory was secure. The following year, after a Peruvian patriot army was destroyed in the Battle of Ica, San Martín met with Simón Bolívar in Guayaquil on July 26 and 27. Thereafter San Martín decided to retire from the scene. For the next two years, two armies of Rioplatense (Argentinian), Chilean, Colombian and Peruvian patriots were destroyed trying to penetrate the royalist bastion in the Andean regions of Peru and Upper Peru. A year later a Peruvian congress resolved to make Bolívar head of the patriot forces in the country. An internecine conflict between La Serna and General Pedro Antonio Olañeta, which was an extension of the Liberal Triennium, proved to be the royalists' undoing. La Serna lost control of half of his best army by the beginning of 1824, giving the patriots an opportunity.
Under the command of Bolívar and Sucre, the experienced veterans of the combined army, mainly Colombians, destroyed a royalist army under La Serna's command in the Battle of Ayacucho on December 9, 1824. La Serna's army was numerically superior but consisted of mostly new recruits. The only significant royalist area remaining on the continent was the highland country of Upper Peru. Following the Battle of Ayacucho, the royalist troops of Upper Peru under the command of Olañeta surrendered after he died in Tumusla on April 2, 1825. Bolívar tended to favor maintaining the unity of Upper Peru with Peru, but the Upper Peruvian leaders—many former royalists, like Casimiro Olañeta, nephew of General Olañeta—gathered in a congress under Sucre's auspices supported the country's independence. Bolívar left the decision to Sucre, who went along with the congress. Sucre proclaimed Upper Peru's independence in the city which now bears his name on August 6, bringing the main wars of independence to an end.
As it became clear that there was to be no reversal of Spanish American independence, several of the new states began to receive international recognition. Early, in 1822, the United States recognized Chile, the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, Peru, Gran Colombia, and Mexico. Britain waited until 1825, after the Battle of Ayacucho, to recognize Mexico, Gran Colombia, and Río de la Plata. Both nations recognized more Spanish American states in the next few years.
The Spanish coastal fortifications in Veracruz, Callao and Chiloé were the footholds that resisted until 1825 and 1826 respectively. In the following decade, royalist guerrillas continued to operate in several countries and Spain launched a few attempts to retake parts of the Spanish American mainland. In 1827 Colonel José Arizabalo started an irregular war with Venezuelan guerrillas, and Brigadier Isidro Barradas led the last attempt with regular troops to reconquer Mexico in 1829. The Pincheira brothers moved to Patagonia and remained there as royalist outlaws until defeated in 1832. But efforts like these did not reverse the new political situation.
The increasing irrelevance of the Holy Alliance after 1825 and the fall of the Bourbon dynasty in France in 1830 during the July Revolution eliminated the principal support of Ferdinand VII in Europe, but it was not until the king's death in 1833 that Spain finally abandoned all plans of military reconquest, and in 1836 its government went so far as to renounce sovereignty over all of continental America. During the course of the 19th century, Spain would recognize each of the new states. Only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule, until the Spanish–American War in 1898.
The nearly decade and a half of wars greatly weakened the Spanish American economies and political institutions, which hindered the region's potential economic development for most of the nineteenth century and resulted in the enduring instability the region experienced. Independence destroyed the de facto trade bloc that was the Spanish Empire - Manila galleons and Spanish treasure fleets in particular. After independence, trade among the new Spanish American nations was less than it had been in the colonial period. Once the ties were broken, the small populations of most of the new nations provided little incentive to entice Spanish American producers to recreate the old trade patterns. In addition, the protection against European competition, which the Spanish monopoly had provided to the manufacturing sectors of the economy, ended. Due to expediency, protective tariffs for these sectors, in particular textile production, were permanently dropped and foreign imports beat out local production. This greatly affected Native communities, which in many parts of Spanish America, specialized in supplying finished products to the urban markets, albeit using pre-industrial techniques. The wars also greatly affected the principal economic sector of the region, mining. Silver production in Bolivia halved after independence and it dropped by three quarters in Mexico. Cities dependent on seaborne trade like Valdivia plunged into depression as the intracolonial trade system collapsed.
Foreign trade policies varied among the new countries, some like the United Provinces of Río de la Plata and Peru applied initially protectionist policies while Chile was more open to foreign trade while still applying a kind of neomercantilism.
To compensate for the lack of capital, foreign investment—in particular from Great Britain—was courted, but it was not sizable enough to initiate an economic recovery. Finally the new nations entered the world economy after the end of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, when the economies of Europe and the United States were recovering and aggressively seeking new markets to sell their products after more than two decades of disruption. Ultimately Spanish America could only connect to the world markets as an exporter of raw materials and a consumer of finished products.
In addition to improving the economy, the lower social classes also had to be integrated into the new body politic, although they often got few rewards from independence. The political debate seeking answers to these questions was marked by a clash—at times on the battlefield—between liberalism and conservatism. Conservatives sought to maintain the traditional social structures in order to ensure stability; liberals sought to create a more dynamic society and economy by ending ethnically-based social distinctions and freeing property from economic restrictions. In its quest to transform society, liberals often adopted policies that were not welcome by Native communities, who had benefited from unique protections afforded to them by traditional Spanish law.
Independence, however, did initiate the abolition of slavery in Spanish America, as it was seen as part of the independence struggle, since many slaves had gained their manumission by joining the patriot armies. In areas where slavery was not a major source of labor (Mexico, Central America, Chile), emancipation occurred almost immediately after independence was achieved. In areas where slavery was a main labor source (Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Argentina), emancipation was carried out in steps over the next three decades, usually first with the creation of free-womb laws and programs for compensated emancipation. By the early 1850s, slavery had been abolished in the independent nations of Spanish America.
Women were not simply spectators throughout the Independence Wars of Latin America. Many women took sides on political issues and joined independence movements in order to participate on many different levels. Women could not help but act as caring relatives either as mother, sister, wives or daughters of the men who were fighting. Women created political organizations and organized meetings and groups to donate food and supplies to the soldiers.
Some women supported the wars as spies, informants and combatants. Manuela Sáenz was a long term lover of Simón Bolívar and acted as his spy and confidante and was secretary of his archive. She saved his life on two occasions, nursed wounded soldiers and has even been believed some historians to have fought in a few battles. Sáenz followed Bolívar and his army through the independence wars and became to be known in Latin America as the “mother of feminism and women’s emancipation and equal rights.” Bolívar himself was a supporter of women’s rights and suffrage in Latin America. It was Bolívar who allowed for Sáenz to become the great pioneer of women’s freedom. He wanted to set the women of Latin America free from the oppression and inferiority of what the Spanish regime had established. Bolívar even made Sáenz a Colonel of the Colombian Army due to her heroics which caused controversy because there were no women in the army at the time. Another woman who gained prominence in the fight for independence was Juana Azurduy de Padilla, a mixed-race woman who fought for independence in the Río de la Plata region. Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner posthumously promoted her to the rank of general.
According to gender stereotypes, women were not meant to be soldiers; only men were supposed to engage in fighting and conflict. There were still plenty of women present on the battlefields to help rescue and nurse soldiers. Some women fought alongside their husbands and sons on the battlefield. The majority of women assumed supportive and non-competitive roles such as fundraising and caring for the sick. Revolution for women meant something different than for men. Women saw revolution as a way to earn equal rights, such as voting, and to overcome the suppression of subordination of women to men. Women were usually identified as victims during the independence wars since the women of Latin America were forced to sacrifice for the cause. The ideals of womanhood meant that women must sacrifice what the situation required such as a mother sacrificing her son or a virgin knowing she might be sacrificing motherhood or marriage due to the loss of many young men. This view meant that women were meant to contribute to independence in a supportive role while leaving the combat and politics in the hands of the men.
Independence also did not result in stable political regimes, save in a few countries. First, the new nations did not have well-defined identities, but rather the process of creating identities was only beginning. This would be carried out through newspapers and the creation of national symbols, including new names for the countries ("Mexico", "Colombia", "Ecuador", "Bolivia", "Argentina"), that broke with the past. In addition, the borders were not firmly established, and the struggle between federalism and centralism, which began in independence, continued throughout the rest of the century. Two large states that emerged from the wars—Gran Colombia and the Federal Republic of Central America—collapsed after a decade or two, and Argentina would not consolidate politically until the 1860s.
The wars destroyed the old civilian bureaucracy that had governed the region for centuries, as institutions such as the audiencias were eliminated and many Peninsular officials fled to Spain. The Catholic Church, which had been an important social and political institution during the colonial period, initially came out weakened by the end of the conflicts. As with government officials, many Peninsular bishops abandoned their dioceses and their posts were not filled for decades until new prelates could be created and relations between the new nations and the Vatican were regularized. Then as the Church recovered, its economic and political power was attacked by liberals.
Despite the fact that the period of the wars of independence itself was marked by a rapid expansion of representative government, for several of the new nations the nineteenth century was marked by militarism because of the lack of well-defined political and national institutions. The armies and officers that came into existence during the process of independence wanted to ensure that they got their rewards once the struggle was over. Many of these armies did not fully disband once the wars were over and they proved to be one of the stabler institutions in the first decades of national existence. These armies and their leaders effectively influenced the course of political development. Out of this new tradition came the caudillos, strongmen who amassed formal and informal economic, military and political power in themselves.
National Wars, Battles and Revolts
|New Spain and Guatemala||New Granada, Venezuela, and Quito|
|Río de la Plata, Paraguay and Upper Peru||Chile and Peru|
Liberators and other independence leaders
|New Spain, Guatemala, Cuba &
José María Morelos
|Venezuela, New Granada & Quito
|Río de la Plata & Paraguay
José Gervasio Artigas
|Chile & Peru |
José de San Martín
|New Spain, Guatemala, Cuba & Puerto Rico
Félix María Calleja del Rey, 1st Count of Calderón
|New Granada, Venezuela & Quito
|Río de la Plata, Montevideo & Paraguay
Santiago de Liniers, 1st Count of Buenos Aires
|Chile, Peru & Upper Peru |
José Fernando de Abascal y Sousa
The Argentine War of Independence was fought from 1810 to 1818 by Argentine patriotic forces under Manuel Belgrano, Juan José Castelli and José de San Martín against royalist forces loyal to the Spanish crown. On July 9, 1816, an assembly met in San Miguel de Tucumán, declared full independence with provisions for a national constitution.Battle of Boyacá
The Battle of Boyacá (1819), was the decisive battle that ensured the success of Bolívar's campaign to liberate New Granada. The battle of Boyaca is considered the beginning of the independence of the North of South America, and is considered important because it led to the victories of the battle of Carabobo in Venezuela, Pichincha in Ecuador, and Junín and Ayacucho in Peru.New Granada acquired its definitive independence from the Spanish Monarchy, although fighting with royalist forces would continue for years.Brigadier Generals Francisco de Paula Santander and José Antonio Anzoátegui led a combined republican army of Newgranadians to defeat in two hours a Royalist Newgranadian forces led by Spanish Colonels José María Barreiro and Francisco Jiménez.
The battle occurred 150 km from Bogotá in the Andes Mountains, in a place known as Casa de Teja, close to a bridge over the Teatinos River and 3 roads heading to Samaca, Motavita and Tunja, an area which is now part of the Boyacá Department.Battle of Chacabuco
The Battle of Chacabuco, fought during the Chilean War of Independence, occurred on February 12, 1817. The Army of the Andes of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata led by General Captain José de San Martín defeated the Spanish force led by Rafael Maroto. It was a defeat for the Captaincy General of Chile, the royalist government established after the division of the Viceroyalty of Peru.Battle of Las Piedras (1811)
The Battle of Las Piedras was fought on May 18, 1811 as part of the Uruguayan struggle for independence.Battle of Pichincha
The Battle of Pichincha took place on 24 May 1822, on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano, 3,500 meters above sea-level, right next to the city of Quito, in modern Ecuador.
The encounter, fought in the context of the Spanish American wars of independence, pitted a Patriot army under General Antonio José de Sucre against a Royalist army commanded by Field Marshal Melchor Aymerich. The defeat of the Royalist forces loyal to Spain brought about the liberation of Quito, and secured the independence of the provinces belonging to the Real Audiencia de Quito, or Presidencia de Quito, the Spanish colonial administrative jurisdiction from which the Republic of Ecuador would eventually emerge.Battle of Rancagua
The Battle of Rancagua also known as the Disaster of Rancagua occurred on October 1, 1814, to October 2, 1814, when the Spanish Army under the command of Mariano Osorio defeated the rebel Chilean forces led by Bernardo O’Higgins. This put an end to the Chilean Patria Vieja and it was the beginning of the Spanish Reconquista of South America.Carlotism
Carlotism was a political movement that took place in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata between 1808 and 1812; it intended to make Carlota Joaquina, Infanta of Spain and Queen Consort of Portugal, its monarch.
After Napoleon's invasion of Spain, Fernando VII, Carlota's younger brother, was forced to abdicate and give the throne to Joseph Bonaparte. Most Spanish did not consider him a legitimate king and Carlota, an ambitious woman, seemed like a possible option to keep the royal line safe.
Carlota was living in Brazil by then, after the nobility of Portugal moved from Portugal to the Americas because of Napoleón's invasion of Portugal.
Carlotism found strong resistance from many parties involved: the viceroys, other Spanish authorities in the Americas, part of the Criollos, and the British. The plans were never applied, and supporters of it would later turn to independence.Cry of Asencio
The Cry of Asencio (Spanish: Grito de Asencio) or Admirable alarm (Spanish: Admirable alarma) was an 1811 pronunciamiento that took place at the Banda Oriental (modern Uruguay) against the Spanish rule in Montevideo. Made in support of Buenos Aires, which had already ousted the viceroy and established a local government during the May Revolution, it is considered the beginning of the Oriental revolution.Ecuadorian War of Independence
The Ecuadorian War of Independence was fought from 1820 to 1822 between several South American armies and Spain over control of the lands of the Royal Audience of Quito, a Spanish colonial administrative jurisdiction from which would eventually emerge the modern Republic of Ecuador. The war ended with the defeat of the Spanish forces at the Battle of Pichincha on May 24, 1822, which brought about the independence of the entire Presidencia de Quito. The Ecuadorian War of Independence is part of the Spanish American wars of independence fought during the first two decades of the 19th century.Foolish Fatherland
The period between 1810 and 1816 in the Viceroyalty of New Granada (which included present-day Colombia) was marked by such intense conflicts over the nature of the new government or governments that it became known as la Patria Boba (the Foolish Fatherland). Constant fighting between federalists and centralists gave rise to a prolonged period of instability. Similar developments can be seen at the same time in the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. Each province, and even some cities, set up its own autonomous junta, which declared themselves sovereign from each other.José María Melo
José María Dionisio Melo y Ortiz (October 9, 1800 – June 1, 1860) was a Colombian general and politician of Pijao ancestry who fought in the South American wars of independence, and who in 1854 rose to power and held the presidency of Colombia.José Rondeau
José Casimiro Rondeau Pereyra (March 4, 1773 – November 18, 1844) was a general and politician in Argentina and Uruguay in the early 19th century.Libertadores
Libertadores (Spanish pronunciation: [liβeɾtaˈðoɾes] (listen), Portuguese: [libeʁtaˈdoɾis], "Liberators") refers to the principal leaders of the Latin American wars of independence from Spain and Portugal. They are named that way in contrast with the Conquistadors.They were largely bourgeois criollos (local-born people of European, mostly of Spanish or Portuguese, ancestry) influenced by liberalism and in most cases with military training in the metropole (mother country).Little War (Cuba)
The Little War or Small War (Spanish: Guerra Chiquita) was the second of three conflicts between Cuban rebels and Spain. It started on 26 August 1879 and after some minor successes ended in rebel defeat in September 1880. It followed the Ten Years' War of 1868–78 and preceded the final war of 1895–98, which resulted in American intervention and Cuban independence.Mizque
Mizque (from Quechua: misk'i, meaning "sweet") is a town in the Cochabamba Department, Bolivia. It is the capital of the Mizque Province. Mizque is located in the valley of the Mizque River, one of the main tributaries of the Río Grande.
Historically, it was located in the region of Upper Peru, and was a corregimiente dependent on Santa Cruz de la Sierra until 1783, when it became an independent town of the Intendencia de Cochabamba, in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. During the Spanish American wars of independence, Mizque sent deputies to the Congress of Tucumán, which declared Argentina's independence in 1816, and to the congress that declared the independence of Bolivia in 1825.Open cabildo
The open cabildo (Spanish: cabildo abierto) is a Latin American political action for convening citizens to make important decisions. It is comparable to the North American town hall meeting.Retroversion of the sovereignty to the people
The Retroversion of the sovereignty to the people, which challenged the legitimacy of the colonial authorities, was the principle underlying the Spanish American Independence processes.
Thus, in both Spain and Spanish America, this principle was a predecessor to the concept of popular sovereignty, currently expressed in most constitutional systems throughout the world, whereby the people delegate governmental functions in their leaders while retaining the actual sovereignty.Royalist (Spanish American independence)
The royalists were the Latin American and European supporters of the various governing bodies of the Spanish Monarchy, during the Spanish American wars of independence, which lasted from 1808 until the king's death in 1833. In the early years of the conflict, when King Ferdinand VII was captive in France, royalists supported the authority in the Americas of the Supreme Central Junta of Spain and the Indies and the Cádiz Cortes that ruled in the King's name during the Peninsular War. After the restoration of Ferdinand VII in 1814, royalists supported his claim to rule Spanish America, but were split between those that supported his insistence to rule under traditional law and liberals, who sought to reinstate the reforms enacted by the Cádiz Cortes.Spanish reconquest of New Granada
The Spanish Invasion of New Granada in 1815–1816 was part of the Spanish American wars of independence in South America. Shortly after the Napoleonic Wars ended, Ferdinand VII, recently restored to the throne in Spain, decided to send military forces to retake most of the northern South American colonies, which had established autonomous juntas and independent states. The invaders, with support from loyal colonial troops, completed the reconquest of New Granada by taking Bogotá on May 6, 1816.
|Free trade areas|