Katherine Hunley, Lily Morgan, Drew Sample, Willow Scarbrough, and Max Yakubchik
Reporting on a Revolution
Research / Background Information
Gran Colombia (1819- 1831)
WHY did the Gran Colombia revolution begin?
Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador are three South American countries that were colonized by the Spanish and they were about to revolt. This was the time of revolutions, with the North American Colonies becoming independent and then the Haitians sheading their chains from the French, the taste of freedom was in the air. The people of South America were not free to trade with any other nation besides Spain, who bought their goods incredibly undervalued. The Creoles (a person of mixed European and black descent) were not treated with respect and were normally prevented from being in governmental positions. The people had a culture unlike that of the Europeans and felt that a king who lived halfway across the world was no kind of person to rule them. The unrest grew, and people longed for independence. A man named Simon Bolivar was the first spark and the leader who helped to win the rebellion. He led the South American warriors into battle over and over and continued to win.
WHO was involved?
Simon Bolívar was a main figure in this revolution. He was the leader of the pro-independence forces in the Venezuelan llanos. On August 7, 1819, the Congress of Angostura established the Republic of Gran Colombia, which included all territories under jurisdiction of the former Viceroyalty of New Granada. Bolívar was elected first, president of Gran Colombia and Francisco de Paula Santander, a Colombian military and political leader as vice president.
Francisco de Paula Santander was the ruling president while Bolívar was away fighting, which was often. His rule angered the Venezuelan peoples, of which Bolívar was a native-born, because he was of Colombian heritage.
General José Antonio Páez was also another important figure, one who led a Venezuelan rebellion against Bolívar’s’ (and more importantly Santander’s vice-) presidency.
On the other (and much larger) side of the rebellion was the Viceroyalty of New Granada, the Spanish presence in South America. They fought for control of the colonies and their raw goods.
WHAT happened during the revolution?
Here we will give you a list of dates and events that correspond with them, some have more explanation that others, but all of them are important.
1525- Spain colonizes Colombia.
1819- Fighting for independence, Simon Bolívar defeats the Spanish at Boyaca. The republic of Gran Colombia is created.
1821- Congress of Cúcuta. At this Congress a constitution for the new republic was written, it was highly centralized and provided for a government based on popular representation with a bicameral Congress, a president, and a Supreme Court consisting of five magistrates. It also guaranteed freedom for the children of slaves; freedom of the press; the inviolability of homes, persons, and correspondence; the codification of taxes; protectionist policies toward industry and agriculture; and the abolition of the mita system of labor. There was no mention of the Roman Catholic Church in the constitution
1826- General José Antonio Páez led a Venezuelan revolt against Gran Colombia. Outbreaks and disturbances also occurred elsewhere.
1828- Bolívar assumed dictatorial powers and attempted to install a constitution that he had developed for Bolivia and Peru
Well you obviously haven’t read anything up to this point, but just for you we can make this very clear. The revolution officially began in 1819 when Gran Colombia began although there was fighting before that all the way from 1810, when the first murmurs of rebellion became voice able. The rebellion ended in 1830 when both Ecuador and Venezuela secede formally, Bolívar resigns as president/ dies, and his successor is assassinated. The Spanish never took back over, but there was no unified northern South America as Bolívar had dreamed.
WHERE did the revolution occur?
Again I’m really starting to question your observational skills. The area of Gran Colombia consisted of current day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, northern Peru, western Guyana and northwest Brazil. The rebellion began in Venezuela and moves outwards from there. Colombia is next. Panama joins the union in 1821 and Ecuador is released from Spanish rule in 1822. In 1830 Ecuador and Venezuela secede and so the territory shrinks. Panama becomes a part of Colombia and the revolution dies with its leader.
OUTCOMES of the Revolution
It was not a revolution that would affect all aspects of South American cultures and change it for generations to come; however, the Gran Colombian revolution did leave behind some significant effects.
Freedom from Spain.
As we have mentioned before the Spanish controlled all of the resources in their South American colonies. The people had to sell to the Spanish at an extremely reduced rate, who then sold the goods at much greater prices to make a profit. With the Spanish no longer in power the South American peoples could trade with whom they wished and this greatly stimulated the economy. The people could also were able to establish their own government structures and for a time after Gran Colombia ended power roles keep changing and transforming, some involving religion in the government.
New Granada lay in a depressed state after the dissolution of Gran Colombia. None of the country's three principal economic bases--agriculture, ranching, and mining--was healthy. The import trade was limited to a small group, the banking industry was inadequate, and craftsmen and small manufacturers could supply only enough for local consumption. Despite the desire and need for change, New Granada retained slavery, the sales tax, and a state monopoly on the production and trade of tobacco and alcohol.
After loosing their southern colonies, Spain slowly declined in the areas of trade/economy, military, and political influence in Europe. The peseta, (Spanish coinage) dropped in value. These were some of the factors that led to the fall of the Spanish empire’s power.
ANALYSIS of the Revolution
Each member of our group wrote a few sentences on whether or not the revolution was a successful revolution or not.
DREW: Simon Bolívar’s primary goal was to free South America from Spanish rule, and in that he was successful, but his ideal of a unified South America left much to be desired. In that he rose from the ashes of defeat time and time again, there is no doubt, and after many years of struggle he was able to establish a liberated frontier. Albeit, the nation disintegrated into four separate provinces after his death, the accomplishments of Simon Bolívar will forever be a part of South America’s history.
KATHERINE: The revolution isn’t considered a success, as the republic did break apart in 1830. The initial goal to break free of Spanish rule and achieved, but a unified South America wasn’t able to survive. There were too many rivalries from the newly liberated states to function as a whole state.
WILLOW: These South American colonies and provinces are constantly changing leadership roles and government styles in this time period. I think the Gran Colombia was a major milestone but I am not sure how much of a success it was. This revolutions main goal was to give freedom to the South American Provinces from Spain and it succeeded in this, but it missed the important component of unifying them as a whole. Now that South American colonies were free, there were leadership roles to be filled.Political rivalries and regional jealousies progressively weakened the authority of the new central state due to this new freedom not making the after effect of the Gran Colombia Revolution very successful.
MAX: Simon Bolivar was one of the most powerful figures in South America at the time, he also accomplished his goal of freeing South America from the Spanish. I don't think it was a complete success because he could not keep Gran Colombia unified, Gran Colombia fell apart in 1830.
LILY: Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose and I think that in the aspect of completing purposes the Gran Colombian revolution fell short. They did accomplish a freedom from Spain, but the second purpose was to unite South America and in this they failed. Although in my opinion something does not have to successful to be useful, the Gran Revolution was incredibly helpful to the political structure and social structure of the countries it touched. It improved and advanced them, which was a push that they would need when they had to fend for themselves later in history.
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