The Revolutions of South America were similar to those found in Central America. They were similar in terms of the relationship with the Spanish. Spain's power was also dwindling just like in Central America. It was different in terms of the amount of military violence, organization of resistance, and charisma of the leaders. The only country that was completely opposite was Brazil. To start, Brazil is different from the start. Brazil traces its origins to Portugal not Spain. When the Age of Exploration started, Spain and Portugal went from last to first with Columbus' discovery of the western way. Prior to Columbus, Spain and Portugal were the last in line from the Silk Road, Middle East, and Mediterranean Sea trade. Now Spain and Portugal have the lead with the Americas and Western Africa. Spain and Portugal were very aggressive and would sabotage each other’s ships, ports, and trade networks. The situation became so serious that both sides realized they were on the brink of war. Both sides used the concept of privateers. Neither wanted to lose this new found wealth, so they went to the only man they believed that could be fair to both sides, the Pope. Since both sides were Roman Catholic and the Pope knows no political boundaries. The Treaty of Azores was created. Spain received everything above the line, which was the Caribbean, Central America, and at the time Northern South America. Portugal received everything south of the line, which was Brazil in South American and Africa.


Napoleon's influence again reached further than Europe. In 1807, Napoleon's forces invaded Portugal and the royal family fled their country and moved to their colony Brazil. žEventually the King John VI of Portugal returned and left his son Dom Pedro in charge. While the royal family was in Brazil, Brazil saw many significant changes. Their entire court and their families arrived in Brazil. Over 10,000 nobles arrived in Brazil. The social class system of Brazil was heavily influenced. The royal family and their court were to make Brazil as comfortable as can be. All of Brazil's ports were opened to international commerce. It was like a Renaissance in Brazil, and when King John VI left they did not want things to go back to the way it was before their arrival. For a family that was notorious for their instability, King John VI gave his son Dom Pedro brilliant advice, "If Brazil demands independence, proclaim it yourself and put the crown on your own head." This did happen and Dom Pedro became the first Emperor of Brazil. He accepted a people's constitution, and essentially Brazil had the only bloodless revolution in the Americas.
Paraguary 1811
Confederation 1816
Chile 1818
Colombia 1819
Ecuador 1822
Brazil 1822
Peru 1824
Bolivia 1825
Uruguay 1828
Venezuela 1830
San Martin and Bolivar

In terms of similarities to the revolutions of Haiti and Mexico, South America shared an equal desire to be free and equal from the Spanish and to end formal and institutional slavery. Unlike the northern revolts, South America held more battles and also more distinguished men that led these armies. Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin are the two largest names of South America and their drive to be free of Spain.

Simon Bolivar was born in Caracas, Venezuela into an aristocratic Creole family. His family owned a lot of land, slave, and mines. They were wealthy. Before the revolution Bolivar and his family traveled extensively through Europe. It was here that Simon was exposed to the concepts of free trade unlike the Mercantilist system he was aware of in the Americas, and also government without dictators. Bolivar eventually returned to Caracas. On the way he was introduced and became involved with a group of people that wanted to overthrow the Spanish in the region. Bolivar was known for his energy, focus, and drive. For example, one of his elite fighting forces was known as the, "Legion of Hell."

Bolivar was an interesting character during this time considering that he had to go into exile on three separate occasions for various reasons. The first time occurred in 1814 when the men he was working with believed that he was going to steal gold and silver from the cause. In 1816 Bolivar left for the Orinoco River Valley with support of the English. He met up with another general, Paez and marched in Bogota which was the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. The Spanish were surprised and defeated. Bolivar was depending on the English for the fact that they were promising loans for the new governments for the compromise of trade which the Spanish were unwilling to do. New Granada was made up of the current countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama. Their individual independence would have to wait until later. They formed a group called Gran Colombia. It was here that Bolivar went into exile a second time. He was displeased that the new government of Gran Colombia would not acknowledge him, so he left for Jamaica. It was during this time that he wrote "The Jamaica Letter." The letter is considered the definition of what was desired by the people of South America.

The battles of South America were not as epic as the struggles to meet conflict in the region. For example, in 1819 Bolivar and his men perform one of the greatest examples of human will when they were trying to support New Granada. Between May and August Bolivar marches in the jungles, swamplands, and the Andes Mountains to aid his brothers-in-arms. The march was 700 miles long; he loses 2/3 of his forces, and all of his horses. The march brought them to the heights of 13,000ft in elevation. In this group of soldiers were a mix of British, French, and Irish. These soldiers were found in North America and Europe. They were soldiers of fortune.

Towards the end and Bolivar realized that victory was certain, so they needed to start preparing for life after the Spanish. He calls for a conference among all Spanish American nations to meet in Panama. He did not invite the United States, Brazil, or Haiti. He did however extend an invitation to the British to be observers. Bolivar admired the British Constitutional Monarchy, and he wanted to make economic ties to the most powerful nation on earth.


Bolivar rolled back many of the liberal reforms that were granted in Gran Colombia. He reduced the amount of monasteries the ended the tradition of Indian tribute. He did not abolish slavery, but pushed for a gradual reduction. Like many of his decisions, he believed that the time was too early. Bolivar went from hero to heel during this time period. He was considered a dictator. People believed that he would be more progressive, but he went in the other direction. Bolivar had to survive assassination, and because of this, he became harsher. Some people resented the fact they were being ruled from such a distance. For example, the people of Venezuela had a difficult time take orders from a ruler in Bogota, Colombia. Bolivar had enough when his cabinet was looking to recruit a European prince to succeed him. This prince was to take over after the death or retirement of Bolivar. Bolivar took exception to this because it meant everything that he worked for was going to be eliminated.

Jose de San Martin was an Argentine born colonel in the Spanish army. He was a great soldier for the Spanish army, highly decorated and a model soldier. Somewhere in his life he turned to his roots and supported the cause of revolution and help broke the stalemate in southern South America in La Plata. He sails to La Plata and offers his services to the Junta. A junta is a council or a committee for political/governmental purpose, especially after a seize of power. He was dedicated to the removal of the Spanish from Chile and Peru. Jose de San Martin spent 2 years recruiting, training, and equipping the army. He promised freedom to the Mulatto and slaves.

Like Bolivar Jose de San Martin had to travel over the Andes to support the revolutionaries. It was not as great as Bolivar's march, but it was quite impressive. His troops were able to defeat the Spanish. In 1818 in the city of Lima, Peru San Martin and Bolivar met to decide the fate of the continent. No one knows exactly what was discussed, but San Martin gave the field to Bolivar. He did not crave the attention and responsibility like Simon Bolivar. He left to live in Europe for the rest of his life.


Bolivar once said, "I fear peace more than war." Between 1820 and 1850, all the Latin American nations had some type of chaos and power vacuums. Breaking away from Spain and becoming independent was not a successful as the United States breaking away from Great Britain. There are 3 major reasons why Latin America did not achieve this success.

1. No Middle Class: Unlike North America, there is no working middle class. Spanish America was separated between Creole, Peninsular, Mestizo, Mulatto, Native, and African. The upper class did not wish to give up anything and the lower classes wanted more than they needed. The lower class did not have the tools to be successful. In the United States, the middle class had the tools and knowledge to be productive and not hinder the government for support. The middle class was not revolutionary. There was a fear that the lower classes would rebel at any given time.

2. Experience with self government: A better statement would be the lack of experience. The Spanish kept law and enforcement in such a small group when the Americans had the opportunity to rule, they were not experienced with this responsibility. They made many mistakes. The support of the law was difficult, and respect for the law and its enforcers were lacking

3. Homogeneous Population: For the most part, in the United States the people were of European descent. Their nationalities were different, but their race and identity was similar. In Central and South America there were many types of people, and it was difficult for each group to see themselves as equals after so many years of class division.