In a mere of 20 years the Spaniards were forced out from the Latin American continent ant the different colonies gained their independence. How could this happen?


Essay, 2002
10 Pages, Grade: 2 (B)

Excerpt

Course: HI3100 Spanisch America

Title:

In a mere of 20 years the Spaniards were forced out from the Latin American continent ant the different colonies gained their independence. How could this happen?

U.C.C.

Renate Bagossy

ID: 101150324

15.01.2002

There were several reasons which caused the independence movement of the Latin American colonies. There was not only one reason but a whole development over decades and even centuries which led to the independent struggles. Therefore it would not be correct to start the explanation with the rebellions at the beginning of the nineteenth century but we must go back in history a great deal to find out about the backgrounds, about the reasons, why there was such a dissatisfaction, such an unhappiness in the Latin American population. There was a shutter reason but a lot of more or less small factors also played an important role. The mixture of the races led to the development of the mestizos, mulatos and zambos. The Spaniards who were born in the New World, the Creoles, were also seen as something different form Spaniards. There was constant tension between Spaniards and people who were born on the American continent. In fact the whole Spanish administration was undermined from the beginning, as the Creoles were not allowed to take part in it. The weakening of the Spanish Kings and the motherland in general also played an important role. ”The American and French revolution in the late 1700s helped to ignite a revolt against European colonial powers.”[1] And finally the fact that at the beginning of the nineteenth century two different people (Joseph Bonaparte and Ferdinand VII) seemed to gave orders to the administration of the motherland and the colonies, which caused confusion and disagreement in South America. So the reaction on the restorment of Ferdinand as absolute monarch was not the only reason for the final rebellions at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but there were a lot of earlier tensions which by this time came to a high point.

The administration in the colonies followed a strict pattern, in which there was no place for people who were born in the colonies. So called Viceroyalties were established in the colonies which were ”designed to assert the king's authority over his overseas realms”[2] with the viceroy at its head: one for the whole territory to the north of the isthmus of Panama, which was called the viceroyalty of New Spain, set up in 1535, governed form Mexico City, and the other one for the rest of South America governed from Lima, capital of the viceroyalty of Peru, set up in 1542. Later two further Viceroyalties were added to these two: the one of New Granada in 1717 and finally one in the River Plate in 1776. As these territories were so vast, they established smaller administrative units, ”whose limits were determined by a number of factors - geographical, historical, military and economic.”[3] ”After the viceroy, the most important officials were the judges of the audiencias, called oidores.[4] The audiencia was a court of law ”with certain administrative and executive powers, situated in the capital of the larger provinces.”[5] The provinces were the basic administrative units, which were ruled by a governor. Within this structure of administration there were territories whose ”economic, military or demographic importance accorded them a more autonomous status. Though nominally within the sphere of a viceroyalty, such territories were the responsibility of a Captain-general who, in practice, dealt directly with the Council of the Indies in Spain.”[6] The whole administration of the Spanish overseas territories was thoroughly absolutist in inspiration and design: all government posts were appointive and there were no elective bodies. The Spanish Crown appointed all bishops and the clergy. The viceroy was normally chosen from the Spanish nobility or Spaniards who possessed extraordinary administrative skills got this post. Although the Viceroy represented the king, his power was not endless as the oidores of the audiencia were in a position to influence his decisions. ”In this respect, the audiencias acted as councils of state and acquired a political complexion. Furthermore, as the supreme guardians of the law, the oidores could watch over the conduct of the viceroy and might report irregularities directly to the Council of the Indies.”[7]

Normally the tenure of the oidores lasted longer than the one of the viceroy, so after a time the oidores seemed to identify with local interest. In fact, this was the last thing the Spaniards wanted to achieve. The Spanish Crown wanted to rule the colonies in a way which is advantageous for the Spanish Crown but not necessarily for the colonies, that is why they wanted to fill all the posts with Spaniards.

Everybody who had the intention going to the colonies must have been checked in the Casa de Contratación in Seville. ”The Casa de Contratación was the supreme regulatory body for the Indies trade. Founded in 1503, it was responsible for licensing ships, organising the transatlantic fleets, inspecting and registering cargoes, collecting taxes and duties, and receiving the royal quinto of gold and silver form America.”[8] Everybody's name was written down, every ship was checked even the ones that returned from the colonies. A lot of Spaniards went with the intention to make a carrier and to come back to Spain after a time. To intensify this, the members of the audiencia were not allowed to marry American-born Spaniards, so called Creoles, or other people from the colonies, or to do business.

This structure of administration may work for one or two generations but as time went by the weakness and the impossibility of the preservation of this system became more and more obvious. ”The efficiency of these institutions was badly undermined.”[9] The numbers of Creoles and of the mixed races were increasing but they had no possibility to rule. ”There had been friction between Spaniards and Creoles since the earliest times. Of the sixty Viceroys and more than six hundred Captains-General appointed during the colonial period, not more than four of the former and fourteen of the latter had been Creoles.”[10]

So the Spaniards were cautious not letting a new nobility develop in the colonies in order to keep the power for themselves. If there is no nobility, then they can keep going on ruling the land. But as time went by, the peninsulares (Spanish-born Spaniards) got children, and even if both parents were Spaniards, the children were not peninsulares any more but Creoles. When this second and third generation reached an age to take possession of administrative jobs, they faced difficulties and they had not got such good opportunities as the people who came over from Spain. But, of course, if there was one Spanish judge in the audiencia with a great deal of sway, then he took advantage of his position and gave his friends and family members jobs and in doing so, also a few Creoles could get positions in the administration. This tradition survived until today in Latin American culture, often people get their job because a friend or relative ”called” them.

So as time went by the Creoles also occupied junior posts and maybe some of them became a bishop or a town council. Apart from the peninsulares who were coming over from Spain and the Creoles who were born in the colonies, there were also other developments in the population. A mixture of races could be observed. At the beginning of the colonisation most of the Spaniards who came over to America were men. They took Indian women as their wifes or as concubines and with their children the mestizo race developed. The white Spaniards and the Indians also mixed with the black slaves and so the mulato and zambo race developed. At the end of the 17th Century and the beginning of the 18th Century the number of the Creoles increased and in some regions even reached 50% of the whole population. In other regions, for example in Mexico, the mestizo race was the one that had high numbers.

There was this constant rivalry between the Creoles and the peninsulares, as in fact they were both Spanish, but the Creoles were not born in Spain but in America. Very simple, uneducated peninsulares considered themselves superior to the white born educated Creoles. But in fact many Creoles became wealthier then the Spanish officials were who came over to work for the administration. A new nobility never developed in the colonies, as there, wealth became more important than the fact were somebody comes from. The Creoles gathered wealth but not real power, they did not governed themselves, the Spaniards were doing it. ”What the Creoles wanted was not better government, which meant stronger, more effective, and highly centralised control by the metropolis, but a greater say in running things themselves.”[11] During the 18th Century the Creoles were allowed to get important military posts but not posts in the government, so there were a constant tension. Furthermore the distinction between the two expressions Nacion and Patria became more and more evident in the eyes of the Creoles. La Nacion is the Spanish nation, every Spanish person belongs to it, it does not matter where he or she was born. La Patria on the other hand was something else, it was the identification with one special country, the patria, which could be Spain or Mexico for example. This notion was important for the identity. The Creoles who visited Spain or the Jesuits who were expelled from the new world and were also creels, felt themselves being in exile in Europe, their country where they came from in Latin America were their home, their patria.

Because of the long distance to Spain and because of the lack of communication, the laws which arrived from Spain were just partly carried out in the New World. The expression Obedesco pero no cumplo (I obey but do not carry out) was one of the most famous formula at that time. This was not just because of the aforementioned distance and lack of communication but strictly speaking also because of the decline of the quality of the Spanish rulers. Ferdinand and Isabela, Charles and maybe even Philip II were competent, absolute rulers. Their followers on the other hand were weak. The enormous wealth (gold, silver etc.) with which the colonies provided Spain was simply sucked out of the country, not much of the wealth stayed in Spain. The prices rose, there was inflation. From the middle of the 16th Century on Spain also had to face the envy of the other European countries. These countries also started to gain interest in America, some, like for example Francis Drake, even attacked the silver trains in America. Furthermore, Spain lost its European colonies at the beginning of the 18th Century, so the weakness became more and more evident.

Once, in the 15-16th Century Spain used to be a military power but Spain became very sure of itself, it became unpopular in the eyes of the other European nations, they were nobodies friends, they were surrounded with hostility. In the meantime France was approaching power, it strengthened, but Spain lost the 7 years war against England and lost the trading monopoly. The 18th century was the time of enlightenment but Spain cut a poor figure in these ideas. In such a time it must have been really difficult for Spain to rule such a big empire, which is even falling apart.

In 1776, the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America also had a big impact on the independence movement of the South American countries, as they were trading with the north Americans, and because in a way they identified themselves with the North Americans, as they were also colonies just as the North Americans and now they gained independence from their mother country: England.

”As the [Spanish] colonies grew, they inevitably became more different - different both form the mother country and also from each other,”[12] They developed their own culture in which not only elements of Spanish culture could be discovered but also bits of native, Indian culture. The newly developed mestizo race which emerged form Indian and Spanish blood felt in some parts of the continent affectionate with the Creoles, who, just as the mestizos were in a way repressed by the peninsulares.

But all in all the colonies were thriving. And while the colonies prospered, the motherland, Spain had to struggle with rebellion which required French help. In 1808 Napoleon invaded Spain, put his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne and sent the real Spanish King in exile. This, of course, led to the collapse of royal authority in Spain and in the colonies. The Spanish people rose against the French forces of occupation, set up juntas which claimed to exercise popular sovereignty in the name of Ferdinand VII, the king in exile, declared war on France and sought alliance with England. These juntas sprang up in various towns in Spain, and after a time they placed themselves under the authority of a Supreme Junta at Seville.

The news of this changes in Europe caused changes also in Latin America. ”The abrupt disappearance of the dynastic sovereign now posed the question as to where the legitimate authority lay: did it belong to Joseph Bonaparte, the American viceroys, or the Supreme Junta in Seville”[13], or should the Creoles maybe set up their own juntas in the colonies? Now the time has arrived for the Creoles, mestizos and Indians to act in order to gain independence. The Creoles have seen the rebellion of the blacks in 1791 in Santo Domingo, which was at that time a French colony, and where the blacks raped the white women and killed all the white men. This rebellion had an impact on the Creole population, they saw the rebellion of 1791 as a path they did not want to follow. As they were Catholic, they saw it as barbarous, as something they never would do. So instead of doing it the same way as the blacks, the Creoles had chosen a more human way trying to gain their independence and set up juntas in 1810, just as the Spaniards in Spain. Such juntas emerged in Caracas, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Asunción and Santiago but the ideas of the juntas did not gained full acceptance everywhere. ”The issue of sovereignty divided Creole from Creole and Creole from Spaniard, and responses varied from one region to another.”[14] So not every Creole liked the idea of the juntas, and yes, juntas developed in South America, but not everywhere and quite all of the colonial juntas were after a time under the control of Seville or quarrelling with each other.

Peru, for example, which can be seen as the old heartland of the Spanish empire, obeyed its viceroy and was the most loyal during the period of independence movement. This was because in Peru the mixture of races was not so well developed as it was in the other parts of South America. As it was difficult to live in the high Andes, so the Spaniards settled in Lima, and the Indians lived in more higher areas. The mestizo race could not reach such a high percentage of the population as it reached for example in Mexico. Furthermore the Creoles in Peru did not hold together with the mestizos as in other parts. In fact the people in Peru felt threatened by the Creoles, who were slowly but surely taking over the surrounding countries, and so the viceroy gave some Creoles important jobs.

So while in Peru there was a loyalty to the viceroy, in other parts revolutionary juntas were proclaimed in various provincial cities, and after a time these juntas also developed into armed forces. The most radical was the junta in Caracas in Venezuela, which fell under the sway of republicans like Francisco de Miranda and Simón Bolívar and which ”moved soonest towards republicanism and the inevitable armed struggle.”[15] But just as in the other parts of the colonies the rebellion was sooner or later depressed by the royalist forces. Miranda was captured and deported to Spain and died in prison some years later. Bolívar escaped but soon had to realise that not even the juntas could reach an agreement among themselves which made the whole struggle for independence even more difficult. ”Despite this disorder, Bolívar managed to enlist the help of the United Provinces of New Granada for a renewed campaign against the royalists of Venezuela. [...] In 1813 Bolívar entered Venezuela and declared a ´war to death´ against the authority of Spain with the aim of forcing wavering Creoles to choose between independence of submission to an unyielding colonialism.”[16] When he reached Caracas he assumed the functions of a military dictator, because seeing the chaotic situation of the quarrelling juntas he gave no chance to a democratic development. But again, just after a few month the army of Bolívar was defeated by the royalist guerrillas.

In Mexico in 1810 a priest called Miguel Hidalgo issued his so called grito which was ”a cry for independence in the name of Ferdinand VII and the Virgin of Guadalupe.”[17] As the Indians and mestizos formed the vast majority of the population in Mexico, it was to be expected that this race will raise against Spanish rule. The troops of Hidalgo, Indians and mestizos, rose up, marched throughout the country, fought a guerilla war, looted and killed the whites but were defeated by the forces of the viceroyal, and Hidalgo was shot, along with most of his commanders. A year later the place of Hidalgo was replaced by José María Morelos, a mestizo priest from Michoacán,” whose military skill and political intelligence gave the independence movement greater coherence than under Hidalgo”[18] But in the end he was also captured in 1815 and executed.

So there were several more or less good organised rebellions under more or less competent leaders, but they were all defeated partly because the royalist forces were stronger but partly because the rebels could not reach an agreement, they were quarrelling.

When Napoleon was defeated in the Iberian Peninsula in 1814, Ferdinand VII, the Spanish king returned to the throne and reverted to absolute rule. So this ”allowed Spain to focus attention and manpower on suppressing rebellion in America.”[19] ”After 1814 the Creoles faced a very different political situation from when Napoleon had sized the Spanish Crown and had apparently conquered the entire Iberian Peninsula. With the legitimate king back on his throne, opposition to the colonial administration could no longer be construed other as treason.”[20] So there was a possibility for unity and stability, which was afforded by the monarch, but just if the colonial people forsook self-government. But later developments show, that this was, for most of the inhabitants of South America, out of question.

Bolívar, who already lead rebellions in earlier years, returned to Venezuela in 1816 ”to begin his third and, as it proved, finally successful effort of liberation.”[21] He have had a new strategy. He created a base in the Orinoco plains in the east of the territory and from here, in early 1818, he began a slow advance westward. In the final liberation of South America not only soldiers of the South American continent took part but also a lot of European veterans who, after the Napoleonic wars were without occupation. Bolívar defeated the Spaniards decisively at Boyacá in August 1819, ending colonial rule in New Granada. Late in 1820 he turned eastwards and in June 1821 he inflicted the final defeat on the Spaniards at Carabobo. ”His military and political eminence was so great that in September he was the obvious choice as first president of Colombia.”[22]

In the meantime San Martín, a Creole who lived and was educated in Spain and made a carrier in the Spanish army, defeated the Spaniards in April 1818 at Maipú and freed the colony from Spanish control for once and for all.

Bolívar later, in 1822-4, inflicted a series of defeats on the Spanish forces in Ecuador and Peru. ”With that, Spain was effectively dismissed from South America”[23]

So in a mere of twenty years the Spaniards were forced out from the Latin American continent and the different colonies gained their independence. But the reasons for the independence movements lay more backwards in history. The newly developed races in Latin America were excluded from the government, they were repressed by the Spaniards. The people who were born in the colonies developed their own culture and developed a new identity and a patriotic feeling for their patria. Spain the mother country, which was once a military power during the conquest of the South American continent more and more weakened and finally was so weak that it was even occupied by a foreign force: France. Seeing the mother country weakening and the other American colonies in North America gaining their independence from England also encouraged the South Americans to fight for their independence. Finally, after several unsuccessful rebellions, under the leadership of Bolívar and San Martín the whole South American continent was liberated from the Spanish rulers who held their colonies for three hundred years.

Bibliography

Stephen Clissold, Latin America: New World, Third World, Pall Mall Press, London, 1972

Peter Bakewell, A History of Latin America, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 1998

Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992

http://www.latinsynergy.org/latinamericahistorry.htm

[...]


[1] http://www.latinsynergy.org/latinamericahistorry.htm

[2] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992 p. 92

[3] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 92

[4] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 93

[5] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 92

[6] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 93

[7] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 94

[8] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 103

[9] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 98

[10] Stephen Clissold, Latin America: New World, Third World, Pall Mall Press, London, 1972, p. 60

[11] Stephen Clissold, Latin America: New World, Third World, Pall Mall Press, London, 1972, p. 61

[12] Stephen Clissold, Latin America: New World, Third World, Pall Mall Press, London, 1972, p. 60

[13] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 221

[14] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 212

[15] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 217

[16] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 218

[17] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 215

[18] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 216

[19] Peter Bakewell, A History of Latin America, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 1998, pp. 370-1

[20] Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, The Penguin Press, New York, 1992, p. 221

[21] Peter Bakewell, A History of Latin America, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 1998, p. 371

[22] Peter Bakewell, A History of Latin America, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 1998, p. 371

[23] Peter Bakewell, A History of Latin America, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 1998, p. 371

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Details

Title
In a mere of 20 years the Spaniards were forced out from the Latin American continent ant the different colonies gained their independence. How could this happen?
College
University College Cork  (History)
Course
Spanish America
Grade
2 (B)
Author
Year
2002
Pages
10
Catalog Number
V26384
ISBN (eBook)
9783638287333
ISBN (Book)
9783640129478
File size
452 KB
Language
English
Tags
Spaniards, Latin, American, Spanish, America
Quote paper
Renate Bagossy (Author), 2002, In a mere of 20 years the Spaniards were forced out from the Latin American continent ant the different colonies gained their independence. How could this happen?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/26384

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