Chapter 24: Nation Building and Economic Transformation in the Americas, 1800–1900
I. Independence in Latin America, 1800–1830
A. Roots of Revolution, to 1810
1. Wealthy colonial residents of Latin America were frustrated by the political and economic power of colonial officials and angered by high taxes and imperial monopolies. Events in Europe ultimately caused a crisis of legitimacy that led to the colonial revolutions in Latin America.
2. The Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil, where King John VI maintained his court for over a decade.
3. Napoleon’s invasion of Portugal and Spain in 1807 and 1808 led dissenters in Venezuela, Mexico, and Bolivia to overthrow Spanish colonial officials in 1808–1809. The Spanish authorities quickly reasserted control, but a new round of revolutions began in 1810.
B. Spanish South America 1810–1825
1. A Creole-led revolutionary junta declared independence in Venezuela in 1811. Spanish authorities were able to rally free blacks and slaves to defend the Spanish Empire because the junta’s leaders were interested primarily in pursuing the interests of Creole landholders.
2. Simón Bolívar emerged as the leader of the Venezuelan revolutionaries. Bolívar used the force of his personality to attract new allies (including slaves and free blacks) to his cause and to command the loyalty of his troops.
3. Bolívar defeated the Spanish armies in 1824 and tried to forge Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador into a single nation. This project was a failure, as were Bolívar’s other attempts to create a confederation of the former Spanish colonies.
4. Buenos Aires was another important center of revolutionary activity in Spanish South America.
5. In 1816, after Ferdinand regained the Spanish throne, local junta leaders declared independence as the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata.
6. The new government was weak, and the region quickly descended into political chaos.
C. Mexico, 1810–1823
1. In 1810, Mexico was Spain’s richest and most populous colony, but the Amerindian population of central Mexico had suffered from dislocation due to mining and commercial enterprises and from a cycle of crop failures and epidemics.
2. On September 16, 1810, a parish priest, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, urged the people to rise up against the Spanish authorities. The resulting violent rebellion took place under the leadership of Hidalgo and then, after Hidalgo’s capture and execution, under José María Morelos. Loyalist forces defeated the insurrection and executed Morelos in 1815.
3. In 1821, news of a military revolt in Spain inspired Colonel Agustín de Iturbide to declare Mexico’s independence, with himself as emperor. In early 1823, the army overthrew Iturbide, and Mexico became a republic.
D. Brazil, to 1831
1. King John VI of Portugal ruled his kingdom from Brazil until 1821, when unrest in Spain and Portugal led him to return to Lisbon. King John’s son Pedro remained in Brazil, where he ruled as regent until 1822, when he declared Brazil to be an independent constitutional monarchy, with himself as king.
2. Pedro’s liberal policies (including opposition to slavery) alienated the political slaveholding elite, and he incurred heavy losses of men and money as he attempted to control Uruguay by military force. Street demonstrations and violence led Pedro I to abdicate in favor of his son, Pedro II, who reigned until republicans overthrew him in 1889.
II. The Problem of Order, 1825–1890
A. Constitutional Experiments
1. Leaders in both the United States and in Latin America espoused constitutionalism. In the United States, the colonists’ prior experience with representative government contributed to the success of constitutionalism; in Latin America, inexperience with popular politics contributed to the failure of constitutions.
2. In Canada, Britain responded to demands for political reform by establishing limited self-rule in each of the provinces in the 1840s. In 1867, the provincial governments of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia entered into a confederation to form the Dominion of Canada with a central government in Ottawa.
3. In Latin America, lack of experience with elected legislatures and municipal governments led the drafters of constitutions to experiment with untested and impractical political institutions. Latin American nations also found it difficult to define the political role of the church and to subordinate the army and its prestigious leaders to civilian government.
B. Personalist Leaders
1. Successful military leaders in both the United States and Latin America were able to use their military reputations as the foundations of political power. Latin America’s slow development of stable political institutions made personalist politics much more influential than it was in the United States.
2. The first constitutions of nearly all the American republics excluded large numbers of poor citizens from full political participation. This led to the rise of populist leaders who articulated the desires of the excluded poor and who at times used populist politics to undermine constitutional order and move toward dictatorship. Andrew Jackson in the United States and José Antonio Páez in Venezuela are two examples of populist politicians who challenged the constitutional limits of their authority.
3. Páez declared Venezuela’s independence from Bolívar’s Gran Colombia in 1829 and ruled as president or dictator for the next eighteen years. Jackson, born in humble circumstances, was a successful general who, as president, increased the powers of the presidency at the expense of the Congress and the Supreme Court.
4. Personalist leaders like Páez and Jackson dominated national politics by identifying with the common people, but in practice, they promoted the interests of powerful property owners. Personalist leaders were common in both the United States and Latin America, but in Latin America, the weaker constitutional tradition, less protection of property rights, lower literacy levels, and less developed communications systems allowed personalist leaders to become dictators.
C. The Threat of Regionalism
1. After independence, the relatively weak central governments of the new nations were often unable to prevent regional elites from leading secessionist movements.
2. In Spanish America, all of the post-independence efforts to create large multistate federations failed. Central America split off from Mexico in 1823 and then broke up into five separate nations; Gran Colombia broke up into Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador; and Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia declared their independence from Argentina.
3. Regionalism threatened the United States when the issue of slavery divided the nation, leading to the establishment of the Confederacy and the U.S. Civil War.
4. The Confederacy failed because of poor timing; the new states of the Western Hemisphere were most vulnerable during the first decades after independence. The Confederacy’s attempt to secede from the United States came when the national government was well-established and strengthened by experience, economic growth, and population growth.
D. Foreign Interventions and Regional Wars
1. During the nineteenth century, wars between Western Hemisphere nations and invasions from the European powers often determined national borders, access to natural resources, and control of markets. By the end of the nineteenth century, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile had successfully waged wars against their neighbors and established themselves as regional powers.
2. European military intervention included the British attack on the United States in the War of 1812, the United States’ war with Spain in 1898–1899, French and English naval blockades of Argentina, an English naval blockade of Brazil, and Spanish and French invasions of Mexico. When the French invaded Mexico in 1862, they ousted President Benito Juárez and established Maximilian Habsburg as emperor. Juárez drove the French out in 1867; Maximilian was captured and executed.
3. The United States defeated Mexico and forced the Mexican government to give up Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado in 1848.
4. Chile defeated the combined forces of Peru and Bolivia in two wars (1836–1839 and 1879–1881). Chile gained nitrate mines and forced Bolivia to give up its only outlet to the sea.
5. Argentina and Brazil fought over control of Uruguay in the 1820s but finally recognized Uruguayan independence. Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay then cooperated in a five-year war against Paraguay in which Paraguay was defeated, occupied, lost territory, and was forced to open its markets to foreign trade.
E. Native Peoples and the Nation-State
1. When the former colonies of the Western Hemisphere became independent, the colonial powers ceased to play a role as mediator for and protector of the native peoples. Independent Amerindian peoples posed a significant challenge to the new nations of the Western Hemisphere, but Amerindian military resistance was overcome in both North and South America by the end of the 1880s.
2. In the United States, rapid expansion of white settlements between 1790 and 1810 led to conflict between the forces of the American government and Amerindian confederations like that led by Tecumseh and Prophet in 1811–1812. Further white settlement led to the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forced the resettlement of eastern Amerindian peoples to land west of the Mississippi River.
3. Amerindians living on the Great Plains had become skilled users of horses and firearms, and thus offered more formidable resistance to the expansion of white settlement. Horses and firearms had also made the Plains peoples less reliant on agriculture and more reliant on buffalo hunting. The near extinction of the buffalo, loss of land to ranchers, and nearly four decades of armed conflict with the United States Army forced the Plains Amerindians to give up their land and accept reservation life.
4. In Argentina and Chile, native people were able to check the expansion of white settlement until the 1860s, when population increase, political stability, and military modernization gave the Chilean and Argentinean governments the upper hand. In the 1870s, the governments of both Argentina and Chile crushed native resistance and drove surviving Amerindians onto marginal land.
5. In Mexico, plantation owners in the Yucatán Peninsula had forced Maya communities off their land and into poverty. In 1847, when the Mexican government was busy with its war against the United States, Maya communities in the Yucatán rose in a revolt (the Caste War) that nearly returned the Yucatán to Maya rule.
III. The Challenge of Social and Economic Change
A. The Abolition of Slavery
1. In most of the new nations, rhetorical assertion of the universal ideals of freedom and citizenship contrasted sharply with the reality of slavery. Slavery survived in much of the Western Hemisphere until the 1850s—it was strongest in those areas where the export of plantation products was most important.
2. In the early nineteenth century, slavery was weakened by abolition in some of the northern states of the United States; by the termination of the African slave trade to the United States (1808); and by the freeing of tens of thousands of slaves, who joined the revolutionary armies in the Spanish American republics. But at the same time, increased international demand for plantation products in the first half of the nineteenth century led to increased imports of slaves to Brazil and Cuba.
3. In the United States, abolitionists made moral and religious arguments against slavery. Two groups denied full citizenship rights under the Constitution, women and free African Americans, played important roles in the abolition movement. The Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in the rebel states not occupied by the Union army, while final abolition was accomplished with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1865.
4. In Brazil, progress toward the abolition of slavery was slower and depended on pressure from the British. The heroism of former slaves who joined the Brazilian army in the war against Paraguay helped to feed abolitionist sentiment that led to abolition in 1888.
5. In the Caribbean colonies, there was little support for abolition among whites or among free blacks. Abolition in the British Caribbean colonies was the result of government decisions made in the context of the declining profitability of the sugar plantations of the British West Indies, while abolition in the French colonies followed the overthrow of the government of Louis Philippe. Slavery was abolished in Puerto Rico in 1873 and in Cuba in 1886.
1. As the slave trade ended, immigration from Europe and Asia increased. During the nineteenth century, Europe provided the majority of immigrants to the Western Hemisphere, while Asian immigration increased after 1850.
2. Immigration brought economic benefits, but hostility to immigration mounted in many nations. Asian immigrants faced discrimination and violence in the United States, Canada, Peru, Mexico, and Cuba; immigrants from European countries also faced prejudice and discrimination.
3. The desire to sustain a common citizenship inspired a number of policies that aimed to compel immigrants to assimilate. Schools in particular were used to inculcate language, cultural values, and patriotism.
C. American Cultures
1. Despite discrimination, immigrants altered the politics of many of the hemisphere’s nations as they sought to influence government policies.
2. Immigrants, undergoing acculturation, were changed by their experiences in their adopted nations. At the same time, the languages, arts, music, and political cultures of the Western Hemisphere nations were influenced by the cultures of the immigrants.
D. Women’s Rights and the Struggle for Social Justice
1. In the second half of the nineteenth century, women’s rights movements made slow progress toward the achievement of economic, legal, political, and educational equality in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. Most working-class women played no role in the women’s rights movements; nonetheless, economic circumstances forced working class women to take jobs outside the home and thus to contribute to the transformation of gender relations.
2. Despite the abolition of slavery, various forms of discrimination against persons of African descent remained in place throughout the Western Hemisphere at the end of the century. Attempts to overturn racist stereotypes and to celebrate black cultural achievements in political and literary magazines failed to end racial discrimination.
3. Successful men and women of mixed ethnicity in Latin America faced less discrimination than did those in the United States.
E. Development and Underdevelopment
1. Nearly all the nations of the Western Hemisphere experienced economic growth during the nineteenth century, but the United States was the only one to industrialize. Only the United States, Canada, and Argentina attained living standards similar to those in Western Europe.
2. Rising demand for mine products led to mining booms in the western United States, Mexico, and Chile. Heavily capitalized European and North American corporations played a significant role in developing mining enterprises in Latin America. The expense of transportation and communications technology also increased dependence on foreign capital.
3. Latin America, the United States, and Canada all participated in the increasingly integrated world market, but interdependence and competition produced deep structural differences among Western Hemisphere economies. Those nations that industrialized achieved prosperity and development, while those nations that depended on the export of raw materials and low-wage industries experienced under-development.
4. Cyclical swings in international markets partially explain why Canada and the United States achieved development while Latin America remained underdeveloped. Both the United States and Canada gained independence during periods of global economic expansion. Latin American countries gained independence during the 1820s, when the global economy was contracting.
5. Weak governments, political instability, and (in some cases) civil war also slowed Latin American development. Latin America became dependent on Britain and, later, on the United States for technology and capital.
F. Altered Environments
1. Population growth, economic expansion, and the introduction of new plants and animals brought about deforestation, soil exhaustion, and erosion. Rapid urbanization put strain on water delivery systems and sewage and garbage disposal systems and led to the spread of the timber industry. The expansion of the mining industry led to erosion and pollution in the western United States, Chile, and Brazil.
2. Faced with a choice between protecting the environment or achieving economic growth, all of the hemisphere’s nations chose economic growth.
A. Constitutional Challenges
1. All new nations in the Western Hemisphere evolved from their colonial political traditions.
2. All but the United States suffered failed constitutions within a generation and were divided by distinct regions and ideologies.
B. Challenges of Expansion
1. The new nations faced foreign intervention and/or regional competition over territory.
2. Amerindians lost out to white encroachment throughout the hemisphere.
C. Social and Economic Changes
1. The end of slavery in the United States and Brazil followed long campaigns and protests to the point of Civil War. The poorest regions of the United States and Brazil were those that had relied upon slave labor. Amerindian populations were forced to marginal lands and remained at the bottom economically.
2. Immigrants to the Western Hemisphere tended to settle in regions that had not included slavery. Many came as indentured servants and some, such as the Chinese and East Indians, suffered racial discrimination.
3. Although economic growth throughout the hemisphere depended upon agricultural exports, the United States had become a major industrial nation by 1890.