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Simon Bolivar

BOLIVAR, Simon  - A Stan Klos Biography

BOLIVAR, Simon, the liberator, leader in the struggle for South American independence, born in Caracas, Venezuela, 24 July 1783; died in San Pedro, near Santa Martha, 17 December 1880. His father was Juan Vicente Bolivary Ponte, a wealthy proprietor of Peru, of noble descent, as was also his mother, Maria Concepción Palacios y Sojo. Losing his parents early, young Bolivar was brought up by his uncle, the Marquis de Palacios.

 

After receiving a liberal education at home, he spent several years in the study of law at Madrid, and in travel, mostly in the south of Europe. He remained some time in Paris, and was a witness of the closing scenes of the revolution. Returning to Madrid, he married, in 1801, a daughter of Don N. Tore. Embarking for America with the intention of devoting himself to the care of his estate, Bolivar lost his young wife, who died of yellow fever. He again visited Europe to assuage his sorrow, in 1804, and spent five years in Paris.

 

On his return to Venezuela, in 1809, he passed through the United States, where he had the opportunity of observing the working of free institutions. He soon afterward joined in the revolutionary movement in South America, and, having taken part in the uprising in Caracas of 19 April. 1810, he received a colonel's commission from the junta, and was sent with Luis Lopez Mendes to Great Britain to purchase arms and solicit the protection of the government, returning in 1811 with a cargo of arms.

 

After the declaration of Venezuelan independence, 5 July 1811, he joined the insurgent forces, was attached to General Miranda's staff in September as Lieutenant-Colonel, and was placed in command of the important fortress of Puerto Cabello. He lost that place, the strongest fortified post in the country, through a revolt of the Spanish prisoners of war in the citadel. The fortress was reoccupied by the Spaniards under Monteverde, the Spanish troops regained possession of the province, and Miranda, on the authority of the congress, signed the treaty of Victoria, restoring Venezuela to Spanish rule, 25 July 1812.

 

Bolivar, with other officers, who attributed their failure to the inactivity of Miranda, apprehended the latter at La Guayra, and delivered him up to the Spanish authorities. Hearing of important movements in New Granada, Bolivar went from Curaçao, where he had taken refuge, to Carthagena, and obtained a commission to operate against the royalist forces on Magdalena River.

 

He set out in January 1813, with 300 men, enlisted for the expedition from refugees at Carthagena. Manuel Castillo accompanied him with 500 grenadiers, detailed for the expedition by the president of Carthagena, but soon decamped with his force. Bolivar and his cousin Ribas advanced up the river, driving the Spaniards out of Tenerife, Mompox, and other places as far as the valley of Cucuta on the Venezuelan border. He then determined to endeavor to rekindle the revolution in Venezuela and risk another encounter with Monteverde, and Bolivar and Ribas were commissioned as generals by the congress of New Granada, sitting at Santa Fé de Bogota.

 

Amid many discouragements he pressed forward with his small force, not exceeding 500 men, and reached Merida and Trujillo, important towns in western Venezuela, where he succeeded in raising the population in his support. Dividing his force into two columns, Bolivar marched upon Caracas at the head of one division, while Ribas proceeded with the other by another route. Recruits flocked to the revolutionary standard as they advanced into Venezuela. Incensed at the cruel methods of warfare practiced by the royalists, Bolivar, on 13 January 1813, issued his famous proclamation of war to the death (guerra a muerte).

 

Ribas met General Monteverde at Lostaguenas and inflicted upon him a crushing defeat, following upon reverses at Niquihao, Betisoque, Carache, Barquisemeto, and Varinas. General Monteverde was compelled to fall back upon Puerto Cabello and shut himself up in the fortress with the remnant of his army. General Fierro, governor of Caracas, signed a capitulation at Victoria, and on 4 August 1814, Bolivar entered Caracas at the head of the liberating army. General Marino had recovered from the royal troops the eastern part of the province, and assumed the title of dictator of eastern Venezuela. Bolivar was honored with a triumphal entry into the capital, being conveyed on a car drawn by twelve young ladies, proclaimed himself dictator and liberator of the western provinces of Venezuela, set up a bodyguard, and established the "Order of the Liberator."

 

The enthusiasm of the people was dampened by this display of courtly pomp, and by the arrogance of Bolivar's officers, while the royalists concentrated their forces and applied all their efforts to regaining possession of Venezuela. Several sanguinary battles were fought, in which the revolutionists were at first successful. Public dissatisfaction impelled Bolivar, on 1 January 1814, to call together a junta of influential citizens of Caracas and offer to resign the dictatorship into their hands, but the assembly, by its decision on the following day, insisted upon his retaining the supreme military and civil authority.

 

The Spanish general Boves, collecting a large force for a decisive encounter, marched, in June 1814, from Calabozo upon La Puerta, where the united forces of Bolivar and Marino were encamped. The revolutionary army was split up into three divisions as the Spanish army came up, and on 11 June Boves inflicted upon the patriots a ruinous defeat near Cura, and well-nigh annihilated their army, killing 1,500. The Spaniards then took Caracas, and defeated Bolivar a second time at Aragua.

 

Bolivar escaped to Cumana with some of his officers, and sailed thence to Carthagena, proceeding thence to Tunja, where the revolutionary congress was sitting, and offered his services to the confederated provinces of New Granada. Notwithstanding his misfortunes and the detractions of his numerous enemies, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the forces of the federal republic, and ordered to march against Cundinamarca, the president of which province refused to acknowledge the authority of the central government and the union of the provinces. He liberated Cundinamarca, and took possession of Santa Fé de Bogota. He appeared before that city in December 1814, with 2,000 men, carried the suburbs by storm, and forced the leaders of the defection to capitulate. For this service he received the thanks of congress, which immediately made Sante Fé the seat of government.

 

Bolivar was then sent to recapture Santa Marta, which had fallen into the hands of the enemy, being the only sea-port in New Granada in their possession. Castillo, the commandant in Carthagena, refused to supply the troops with arms and ammunition ordered from the citadel, whereupon Bolivar led his forces against that City, laid siege to it, and remained there till May. Meanwhile, General Morillo had arrived from Spain with large reinforcements, debarked on the island of Margarita, 25 March 1815, relieved the Spanish garrison in Santa Marta, and soon afterward captured Carthagena.

 

Bolivar, on 10 May 1815, embarked with about a dozen of his officers for Kingston, Jamaica, where he looked for assistance. While he remained in Jamaica, for eight months, New Granada was overrun by Morillo's troops, though the patriots in Venezuela and General Arismendi in the island of Margarita held their ground against the Spaniards. In Kingston, Bolivar narrowly escaped being tortured by a hired assassin, who stabbed his secretary instead of him. From Kingston he went to Port au Prince, in Haiti.

 

On his promising to emancipate the slaves, President Petion, of Haiti, furnished him with four Negro battalions. At Cayes he met Admiral Brion, who had arrived from England with a corvette and a supply of arms and military stores for the patriots. Bolivar gathered a force, enlisted from patriot refugees, and with it and his Negro troops sailed for Margarita, 16 April 1816, for the purpose of aiding Arismendi. The Spaniards occupied only the single spot of Pampatar on the island. With the approval of General Arismendi, upon Bolivar's promise to call a national congress as soon as his power should be established in Venezuela, a junta was summoned in the cathedral of La Villa del Norte, which proclaimed Bolivar commander-in-chief of the forces of Venezuela and New Granada.

 

Landing at Carripano on 1 June he issued a proclamation emancipating the slaves. Marino and Piar withdrew the forces under their command, in order to undertake an expedition on their own account against Cumana, leaving Bolivar with about 650 men. He sailed for the mainland in thirteen vessels, seven of which were armed, landed at Ocumare on 3 July and marched toward Valencia. His force was increased through the enrolment of liberated slaves to about 800 men. Not far from Ocumare he met a Spanish detachment commanded by General Morales, and was beaten and compelled to reimbark. He sailed first to the island of Buen Aire, and then to Cumana; but, being coldly received by Piar and the other generals, who threatened to try him by court-martial for cowardice and desertion, he returned to Aux Cayes.

 

A few months later a majority of the superior Venezuelan officers united in requesting Bolivar to resume the chief command. Collecting another band at Aux Cayes, he landed a second time on the island of Margarita, on 31 December 1816. Arms, munitions of war, and provisions were supplied by the president of Haiti. On 2 January 1817, he was joined by Arismendi, and proclaimed martial law and the union of the civil and military power in his person. Five days later Arismendi's troops were surprised in an ambush by the Spaniards.

 

Bolivar fled to Barcelona, where he was joined by the patriot troops that escaped and by re-enforcements sent by Louis Brion, with arms and ammunition. He soon collected a new force of 1,100 men. Morillo advanced against him with a strong division of royalist troops. The two forces met on 16 February 1817, and a desperate battle ensued, lasting three days, at the end of which the Spaniards were defeated and retired in disorder. During their retreat they were set upon and entirely cut to pieces by the llaneros of Paez. While Bolivar pursued his victories in the west, Piar, the Negro leader, wrested from the Spaniards the provinces of Guiana, his land force being supported by Brion's fleet of gun-boats.

 

On 15 April ten days after Bolivar had left that city in search of new recruits, Barcelona was captured by the Spaniards, who slaughtered the garrison, comprising the entire force that he had collected up to that time; but a new army was enlisted, and by the middle of July the royalists had evacuated all the provinces.

 

On 20 July while Bolivar was absent, Piar, Zea, Marino, Arismendi, and the other military chiefs summoned at Angostura a provincial congress, which recorded a decision to vest the executive powers in a triumvirate, consisting of Bolivar and two associates. On hearing of this action, Bolivar hastened to Angostura, and, supported by Brion, dissolved the congress, suppressed the powers of the triumvirate, and proclaimed a supreme council of the nation, consisting of himself as chief with Louis Brion and Antonio Francisco Zea as assistants, the former being the director of the military, and the latter of the political department.

 

Piar, who assailed the character of Bolivar, stigmatizing him as a "Napoleon of retreat," was arrested and tried by a council of war, presided over by Brion, on a charge of conspiring against the whites, plotting against the life of Bolivar, and aiming at the supreme power. He was convicted, condemned to death, and shot on 16 October 1817. Warned by the fate of Piar, Marino desisted from his rivalry with Bolivar and wrote an abject letter, throwing himself upon the mercy of the liberator.

 

Bolivar had an army of 9,000 well-armed, equipped, and provisioned troops, double the Spanish force in the country; yet the patriot forces were so scattered that in the campaign that followed they were beaten in detail a dozen times, and by the end of May 1818, were driven from the provinces north of the Orinoco. Defection and discontent were rife. Bolivar retired to Angostura, where he fell in with Santander, a citizen of New Granada, who informed him that the people of that colony were prepared for a general revolt, and begged for assistance in invading the country. Bolivar aided him to carry out that project; and English, French. German, and Polish officers flocked to Angostura and offered their services to Bolivar, while supplies, vessels, arms, and volunteers came from England.

 

On the advice of Dr. Roscio, Bolivar summoned, on 15 February 1819, a national congress at Angostura, and was soon in a position to put 14,000 men in the field and resume the offensive. At the opening of the congress he submitted a detailed exposition of his views of government, and offered to surrender his powers into the hands of the congress, which, however, requested him to retain the supreme authority until the independence of the country should be completely established.

 

Bolivar then reorganized the army and decided upon a bold strategical plan to march over the Cordilleras, unite with Santander's guerrillas, seize Bogota, and drive the Spaniards out of New Granada, after first inducing them to concentrate their forces in Venezuela by a diversion in the coast provinces of that country. On 24 February 1819, he left Angostura with the army, after nominating Zea president of the congress and vice-president of the republic during his absence. By the bold and successful maneuvers of Paez, Morillo and La Torre were routed at Achaguas, a victory that resulted in the occupation of the province of Barima, leaving the way open into New Granada.

 

Bolivar's daring and original plan of campaign was entirely successful, he marched his army, a third part of his troops consisting of Englishmen and other foreigners, through the difficult passes of the Andes in June encountered and defeated the enemy on 1 July in the province of Tunja, entered the town of Tunja on 23 July after a sharp battle on the adjoining heights, and decided the fate of Bogota and of all New Granada on 7 August by the victory of Boyaca. On 12 August the liberator made his triumphal entry into Santa Fé. All the provinces of New Granada rose against the Spaniards, who shut themselves up in the fortified town of Mompox.

 

After organizing a government in Bogota and leaving General Santander as commander-in-chief, Bolivar returned to Montecal, in Venezuela, where he had ordered the patriot leaders to assemble with their forces, arriving there on 3 November 1819. Morillo had fallen back before the attacks of Paez from San Fernando de Apure to San Carlos; but internal discord prevented Bolivar from following up these victories and crushing the Spanish force, now reduced to 4,500, with his army of 9,000 men.

 

In October 1819, the congress at Angostura compelled Zea to resign, and elected Arismendi in his place. Bolivar, upon hearing of this, marched upon Angostura with his foreign legion, restored Vice-President Zea, and arrested Arismendi and exiled him to the island of Margarita. He then proclaimed the republic of Colombia, securing the enactment of a fundamental law on 17 December 1819, for the union of the states of Venezuela and New Granada under his presidency, with a common congress and a single constitution. The seat of government was transferred provisionally to Rosario de Cueuta, on the borderline between the two provinces.

 

The absence of the foreign legion and the patriot commander gave Morillo an opportunity to collect re-enforcements, and the Spaniards were encouraged furthermore by the news of a formidable expedition about to start from Spain under O'Donnell; but an insurrection in Spain prevented the sending of O'Donnell's expedition. Bolivar took the field again, and on 20 January 1820, returned to San Fernando de Apure. The republican army was now larger and better appointed than at any previous time, and gained important advantages over the royalists.

 

By autumn, fifteen of the twenty-two provinces of New Granada had joined the government of Colombia, while the Spaniards still retained only Carthagena and the fortified posts on the isthmus of Panama. In Venezuela the government of the republic was effective in six out of the eight provinces. On 25 November 1820, Bolivar, probably in the hope of avoiding further bloodshed, concluded with Morillo at Truxillo an armistice of six months. On 17 December General Morillo embarked for Spain, leaving General Miguel de la Torre in command of the Spanish forces.

 

On 10 March 1821, Bolivar notified General La Torre that hostilities would be resumed at the expiration of thirty days. The Spaniards were strongly entrenched at Carabobo, southwest of Valencia, but had not brought up all their forces. Paez with his 3,000 llaneros, and the British legion, 1,100 strong, turned the enemy's position through a side-path and threw them into complete confusion, when Torre retreated with the remnant of his army to Puerto Cabello. This victory, which occurred on 24 June 1821, virtually ended the war in Venezuela, and Bolivar entered Caracas on 29 June. By the end of the year Puerto Cabello was the only post still held by the Spaniards.

 

In New Granada the powerful fortress of Carthagena surrendered to General Santander on 21 September 1821. The naval battle of Maracaibo, in August 1823, and the capitulation of Puerto Cabello in July 1824, were necessary to drive the Spaniards from their last foothold. Yet after the decisive victory of Carabobo the republicans were masters of the country and free to attend to its political organization.

 

The congress of Colombia assembled in Cucuta in May 1821, and on 30 August 1821, the constitution of the republic of Colombia was adopted with the general approval of the people. Bolivar was acclaimed the president of the new republic, notwithstanding his protests. Although he had sacrificed his enormous private fortune in the cause of independence, he renounced his claims to the annual salary of 50,000 dollars due him as president since 1819, and also to his share in the public property distributed among the generals and soldiers of the republic.

 

The Spaniards were still in possession of the provinces of Ecuador and Peru, and Bolivar determined to effect the liberation of the whole country. At the head of his army he marched upon Quito, the chief place in Ecuador, whither the Spaniards had retired after being driven from the isthmus of Panama. A severe battle was fought at Pichincha, which was won for the republicans through the able strategy of General Sucre, Bolivar's colleague. Bolivar entered Quito in June 1822, and incorporated Quito, Pasto, and Guayaquil in the Colombian republic.

 

Then, in response to an appeal from San Martin, the patriot leader in Peru, he left the direction of the government to the vice-president, Santander, and marched upon Lima, which was evacuated by the royalists at the approach of the Colombian army. He made a triumphal entry into the Peruvian capital on 1 September 1823, and on 10 February 1824, the congress of Lima made him dictator of Peru and authorized him to employ all the resources of the country. He tendered his resignation as president of Colombia, but was continued in that office by the vote of a large majority of the congress. The intrigues of the opposing factions in Peru forced Bolivar to retire to Trujillo, whereupon Lima was reoccupied by the Spaniards under Canterac.

 

By June Bolivar had organized another army, which routed the advance guard of the royalist force, and, pushing forward, defeated Canterac on the plains of Junin, 6 August 1824. After this decisive victory Bolivar returned to Lima to reorganize the government, while Sucre pursued the Spaniards on their retreat through upper Peru, and shattered their forces in the final victory of Ayachuco on 9 December 1824. The Spaniards were reduced to the single post of Callao, in Peru, from which they could not be dislodged until more than a year later. On 10 February 1825. Bolivar convoked a constituent congress and resigned the dictatorship of Peru; but that body, on account of the unsettled state of the country, decided to invest him with dictatorial powers for a year longer. Congress voted him a grant of a million dollars, which was declined.

 

A convention of the provinces of upper Peru was held at Chuquisaca, in August 1825, which detached that territory from the government of Buenos Aires and constituted it a separate state, called, in honor of the liberator, Bolivia. Bolivar was declared perpetual protector of the new republic, and was requested to prepare for it a constitution. He returned to Lima after visiting upper Peru, and thence sent a project of a constitution for Bolivia, which was presented to the congress of that state on 25 May 1826, accompanied by an address in which he defined the forms of government that he conceived to be most expedient for the newly established republics.

 

The Bolivian code, copied in some of its features from the code Napoleon, contained a provision for vesting the executive authority in a president for life, without responsibility to the legislature, and with power to nominate his successor. This proposal excited the apprehensions of a section of the republicans in Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, New Granada, and even in Buenos Aires and Chile. The tendencies that Bolivar had manifested in the direction of political consolidation caused the alarm to spread beyond the confines of the territory affected by the new code, and he was suspected of a design to weld the South American republics into an empire and to introduce the Bolivian code and make himself perpetual dictator.

 

Peru, as well as Bolivia, adopted the new code; but from this time the populations of the republics were divided into angry factions on questions raised by that instrument, and a long and bitter struggle ensued between the centralists, or Bolivarists, and the federalists, the military rivals of Bolivar uniting with the latter party. A serious trouble occurred in Venezuela during the absence of the president. Paez, vice-president of that republic, having been accused of arbitrary conduct in the enrolment of the militia, refused to obey the summons of the senate, and, encouraged by a strong separatist party in the northern provinces, openly rebelled against the central government.

 

Bolivar confided affairs in Peru to a council nominated by himself, with Santa Cruz for its chief, and hastened to the scene of the disturbances, leaving Lima in September and reaching Bogota on 14 November 1826. On 23 November he issued a decree from Bogota assuming the extraordinary powers conferred upon the president in case of rebellion, and hastened to Venezuela to stop the spilling of blood, reaching Puerto Cabello on 31 December The following day he issued a proclamation declaring a general amnesty. In an interview with Paez he confirmed him in his command, and, fixing his headquarters at Caracas, checked the disturbances in the northern departments.

 

In 1826 Bolivar and Santander were re-elected president and vice-president of Colombia for the term beginning in January 1827. In February Bolivar, in order to silence his detractors and prove that he was free from ambitious designs and interested motives, insisted on resigning the presidency and retiring into private life. Santander urged him to retract his decision, declaring that the agitations of the country could only be dispelled through the influence and authority of the liberator, while in the congress there was a majority of his supporters, and a resolution was carried requesting him to continue in the presidency. He accordingly withdrew his resignation, and repaired to Bogota to take the oath of office; but before doing so he issued a proclamation calling a national convention to be held at Ocana in March 1828. Another decree granted a general amnesty, and a third proclaimed the establishment of constitutional order throughout Colombia.

 

Shortly after the departure of Bolivar from Lima, the Bolivian code was adopted as the constitution of Peru, and under it the liberator was elected, on 9 December 1826, president for life. A few weeks later, while he was restoring order in Venezuela, a counter-revolution was effected in Peru by the third division of the Colombian auxiliary army, then stationed at Lima. This consisted of veteran troops under Lara and Sands, who had hitherto been the liberator's most efficacious instruments, not only in conquering the independence of the South American republics, but in imposing his own ideas of government on the states he had created, but who now became infected with the growing republican reaction against centralized power, and were filled with distrust toward Bolivar.

 

Six weeks after the adoption of the Bolivian code the Peruvian republicans hostile to Bolivar, with the support of the Colombian troops cantoned in Lima, deposed the council appointed by Bolivar, abolished the Bolivian code, and organized a provisional government. General Lamar was chosen president of Peru, and the Colombian troops departed from her soil. Those stationed in Bolivia were expelled, with the aid of the Peruvians, and after a brief war a treaty was concluded between Colombia and Bolivia, by which the boundaries of the latter were extended to their original limits, its debt was separated from that of Colombia, and its complete independence and equality were recognized.

 

The third division sailed from Callao on 17 March 1827, and in April landed in southern Colombia. Bolivar, who was in the north, prepared to march against the rebellious soldiery; but the latter made no attempt to carry the revolution into Colombia, and quietly submitted to General Ovando. The congress of Ocana met on 2 March 1828. A new constitution, giving the executive stronger and more permanent authority, was submitted. When it was found that the majority was opposed to its adoption, the friends of Bolivar vacated their seats, leaving the body without a quorum.

 

From his country-seat in the neighborhood of Ocana, Bolivar published an address, which, while reprehending the proceeding of his partisans, appealed to the country to support him in introducing stability and order. Popular conventions in Bogota, Caracas, and Carthagena called upon the liberator to adopt extraordinary means to establish tranquility and security, and in August 1828, he was invested by popular elections with dictatorial powers.

 

The anti-Bolivar republicans entered into a conspiracy to assassinate the president. Vice-President Santander and the other leaders of the party were implicated in this crime. Bolivar was attacked in his bedroom in Bogota, 25 September 1828, but escaped by leaping from the balcony and hiding from the murderers. The chief instigators were tried. Santander was convicted and condemned to banishment, and General Padilla expiated with a felon's death his part in the plot.

 

This occurrence prompted Bolivar to exercise more arbitrary powers, a course that augmented the popular suspicions of his aims and motives and the aversion to a military dictatorship. A decree was issued from Bogota, 27 August 1828, by which Bolivar assumed unlimited authority in Colombia. It was at a time when party passion in Colombia was inflamed to an extraordinary degree that Peru, in 1829, declared war against the dictator of Colombia. Bolivar, in a new address to the people of Colombia, asked them to indicate their desires regarding the revision of the constitution. While he was marching against the Peruvians, an assembly in Caracas, on 25 November 1829, condemned him for ambitious designs, declared the separation of Venezuela from Bolivia, and elected Paez president.

 

In Colombia the senate adhered to the liberator; but insurrections broke out in various places. In January 1830, Bolivar for the fifth time resigned the presidency, but was again confirmed in his position by the general voice. He then undertook to compel Paez and the Venezuelan disunionists to submit to the Colombian congress. The congress, however, now contained a majority made up from his opponents, and it voted to accept his proffered resignation, granting him a pension of 3,000 dollars on condition of his residing abroad.

 

The patriot leader sent in his final resignation to congress on 27 April 1830, and left Bogota on 9 May with the intention of embarking for England from Carthagena; but his adherents induced him to remain in the country, and made ineffectual attempts to restore him to power. Suffering from the malady of which he died, he went to Santa Marta to visit the bishop of that see, who was his friend, and there breathed his last. In accordance with an act of the congress of New Granada, his remains were removed in 1842 to Caracas, where a monument was erected in his honor. In 1858 the city of Lima erected an equestrian statue of Bolivar, who was described in the inscription as the "liberator of the Peruvian nation." A statue of him, the gift of the government of Venezuela, was erected in 1883 in Central park, New York City. There is also a fine statue of him in Santa Fé de Bogata.

 

It was Bolivar's hope and ambition to unite the South American republics into a strong confederation. The congress that met at Panama in 1827, with the object of establishing an international code for the Latin republics, was set on foot by him. The example of Napoleon led him into acts too arbitrary and a policy too autocratic to please the independent temper of his compatriots. During the faction fights that prevailed in his lifetime he was a mark for virulent calumnies; but succeeding generations of South Americans have paid due honor to his memory.

 

His lack of judgment and of coolness in the battle-field betrayed his military incapacity, and brought him at times into contempt and disrepute; yet the pertinacity and patience with which he clung to the cause of independence through every danger and discouragement revealed a noble order of courage. His sacrifices and sufferings, voluntarily undergone for the sake of the cause in which he engaged, are sufficient to disprove the charges brought against him of ignoble ambition and egotism.

 

Of the accounts that have been published of the life of Bolivar, the "Histoire de Bolivar," by General Ducoudrey-Holstein, continued down to his death by A. Viollet (Paris, 1831), was written with a hostile animus, and is full of baseless calumniation and misrepresentation. The "Vida del Libertador Simon Bolivar" (New York, 1866) is, on the other hand, an indiscriminate panegyric. See also "Memoirs of General John Miller (in the Service of the Republic of Peru);" Colonel Hippisley's "Account of his Journey to the Orinoco" (London, 1831). The publication of the correspondence of Bolivar, including his messages, manifestoes, and proclamations, preceded by his life, was begun in New York, and the first two volumes, containing the life, written in Spanish, by Felipe Larrazabal, appeared in 1871.

 

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia by John Looby, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

BOLIVAR, Simon, the liberator, leader in the struggle for South American independence, born in Caracas, Venezuela, 24 July 1783 ; died in San Pedro, near Santa Martha, 17 December 1880. His father was Juan Vicente Bolivary" Ponte, a wealthy proprietor of Peru, of noble descent, as was also his mother, Maria Concepcion Palacios y Sojo. Eosing his parents early, young Bolivar was brought up by his uncle, the Marquis de Palacios. After receiving a liberal education at home, he spent several years in the study of law at Madrid, and in travel, mostly in the south of Europe. He remained some time in Paris. and was a witness of the closing scenes of the revolution. Returning to 3ladrid, he married, in 1801, a daughter of Don N. Tore. Embarking for America with the intention of devoting himself to the care of his estate, Bolivar lost his young wife, who died of yellow fever. He again visited Europe to assuage his sorrow, in 1804, and spent five years in Paris. On his return to Venezuela, in 1809, he passed through the United States, where he had the opportunity of observing the working of free institutions. He. soon afterward joined in the revolutionary movement in South America, and, having taken part in the uprising in Caracas of 19 April. 1810, he received a colonel's commission from the junta, and was sent with Euis Eopez Mendes to Great Britain to purchase arms and solicit the protection of the government, returning in 1811 with a cargo of arms.

After the declaration of Venezuelan independence, 5 July 1811, he joined the insurgent forces, was attached to General Miranda's staff in September as Lieutenant-Colonel, and was placed in command of the important fortress of Puerto Cabello. He lost that place, the strongest fortified post in the country, through a revolt of the Spanish prisoners of war in the citadel. The fortress was reoccupied by the Spaniards under Monteverde, the Spanish troops regained possession of the province, and Miranda, on the authority of the congress, signed the treaty of Victoria, restoring Venezuela to Spanish rule, 25 July 1812. Bolivar, with other officers, who attributed their failure to the inactivity of Miranda, apprehended the latter at Ea Guayra, and delivered him up to the Spanish authorities. Hearing of important movements in New Granada, Bolivar went from CuraCao, where he had taken refuge, to Carthagena, and obtained a commission to operate against the royalist forces on Magdalena river. He set out in January 1813, with 300 men, enlisted for the expedition from refugees at Carthagena. Manuel Castillo accompanied him with 500 grenadiers, detailed for the expedition by the president of Carthagena, but soon decamped with his force. Bolivar and his cousin Ribas advanced up the river, driving the Spaniards out of Tenerife, Mompox, and other places as far as the valley of Cucuta on the r enezuelan border. He then determined to endeavor to rekindle the revolution in X enezuela and risk another encounter with Monteverde, and Bolivar and Ribas were commissioned as generals by the congress of New Granada, sitting at Santa Fe de Bogota. Amid many discouragements he pressed forward with his small force, not exceeding 500 men, and reached Merida and Truxillo, important towns in western Venezuela, where he succeeded in raising the population in his support. Dividing his force into two columns, Bolivar marched upon Caracas at the head of one division, while Ribas proceeded with the other by another route. Recruits flocked to the revolutionary standard as they advanced into Venezuela. Incensed at the cruel methods of warfare practiced by the royalists. Bolivar, on 13 January 1813, issued his famous proclamation of war to the death (guerra a muerte). Ribas met General Monteverde at Lostaguenas and inflicted upon him a crushing defeat, following upon reverses at Niquihao, Betisoque, Carache, Barquisemeto, and Varinas. General Monteverde was compelled to fall back upon Puerto Cabello and shut himself up in the fortress with the remnant of his army. General Fierro, governor of Caracas, signed a capitulation at Victoria, and on 4 August 1814, Bolivarentered Caracas at the head of the liberating army. General Marino had recovered from the royal troops the eastern part of the province, and assumed the title of dictator of eastern Venezuela. Bolivar was honored with a triumphal entry into the capital, being conveyed on a car drawn by twelve young ladies, proclaimed himself dictator and liberator of the western provinces of Venezuela, set up a bodyguard, and established the "Order of the Liberator." The enthusiasm of the people was dampened by this display of courtly pomp, and by the arrogance of Bolivar's officers, while the royalists concentrated their forces and applied all their efforts to regaining possession of Venezuela. Several sanguinary battles were fought, in which the revolutionists were at first successful. Public dissatisfaction impelled Bolivar, on 1 January 1814, to call together a junta of influential citizens of Caracas and offer to resign the dictatorship into their hands, but the assembly, by its decision on the following day, insisted upon his retaining the supreme military and civil authority. The Spanish general Bores, collecting a large force for a decisive encounter, marched, in June 1814, from Calabozo upon La Puerta, where the united forces of Bolivar and Marino were encamped. The revolutionary army was split up into three divisions as the Spanish army came up, and on 11 June Boves inflicted upon the patriots a ruinous defeat near Cura, and well-nigh annihilated their army, killing 1,500. The Spaniards then took Caracas, and defeated Bolivar a second time at Aragua.

Bolivar escaped to Cumana with some of his officers, and sailed thence to Carthagena, proceeding thence to Tunja, where the revolutionary congress was sitting, and offered his services to the confederated provinces of New Granada. Notwithstanding his misfortunes and the detractions of his numerous enemies, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the forces of the federal republic, and ordered to march against Cundinamarca, the president of which province refused to acknowledge the authority of the central government and the union of the provinces. He liberated Cundinamarca, and took possession of Santa Fe de Bogota. He appeared before that city in December 1814, with 2,000 men, carried the suburbs by storm, and forced the leaders of the defection to capitulate. For this service he received the thanks of congress, which immediately made Sante Fe the seat of government. Bolivar was then sent to recapture Santa Marta, which had fallen into the hands of the enemy, being the only sea-port in New Granada in their possession. Castillo, the commandant in Carthagena, refused to supply the troops with arms and ammunition ordered from the citadel, whereupon Bolivar led his forces against that City, laid siege to it, and remained there till May. Meanwhile, General Morillo had arrived from Spain with large reinforcements, debarked on the island of Margarita, 25 March 1815, relieved the Spanish garrison in Santa Marta, and soon afterward captured Carthagena.

Bolivar, on 10 May 1815, embarked with about a dozen of his officers for Kingston, Jamaica, where he looked for assistance. While he remained in Jamaica, for eight months, New Granada was overrun by Morillo's troops, though the patriots in Venezuela and General Arismendi in the island of Margarita held their ground against the Spaniards. In Kingston, Bolivar narrowly escaped being tortured by a hired assassin, who stabbed his secretary instead of him. From Kingston he went to Port au Prince, in Hayti. On his promising to emancipate the slaves, President Petion, of Hayti, furnished him with four Negro battalions. At Cayes he met Admiral Brion, who had arrived from England with a corvette and a supply of arms and military stores for the patriots. Bolivar gathered a force, enlisted from patriot refugees, and with it and his Negro troops sailed for Margarita, 16 April 1816, for the purpose of aiding Arismendi. The Spaniards occupied only the single spot of Pampatar on the island. With the approval of General Arismendi, upon Bolivar's promise to call a national congress as soon as his power should be established in Venezuela, a junta was summoned in the cathedral of La Villa del Norte, which proclaimed Bolivar commander-in-chief of the forces of Venezuela and New Granada. Landing at Carripano on 1 June he issued a proclamation emancipating the slaves. Marino and Piar withdrew the forces under their command, in order to undertake an expedition on their own account against Cumana, leaving Bolivar with about 650 men. He sailed for the mainland in thirteen vessels, seven of which were armed, landed at Ocumare on 3 July and marched toward Valencia. His force was increased through the enrolment of liberated slaves to about 800 men. Not far from Ocumare he met a Spanish detachment commanded by General Morales, and was beaten and compelled to reimbark. He sailed first to the island of Buen Ayre, and then to Cumana; but, being coldly received by Piar and the other generals, who threatened to try him by court-martial for cowardice and desertion, he returned to Aux Cayes. A few months later a majority of the superior Venezuelan officers united in requesting Bolivar to resume the chief command. Collecting another band at Aux Cayes, he landed a second time on the island of Margarita, on 31 December 1816. Arms, munitions of war, and provisions were supplied by the president of Hayti. On 2 January 1817, he was joined by Arismendi, and proclaimed martial law and the union of the civil and military power in his person. Five days later Arismendi's troops were surprised in an ambush by the Spaniards. Bolivar fled to Barcelona, where he was joined by the patriot troops that escaped and by re-enforcements sent by Louis Brion, with arms and ammunition. He soon collected a new force of 1,100 men. Morillo advanced against him with a strong division of royalist troops. The two forces met on 16 February 1817, and a desperate battle ensued, lasting three days, at the end of which the Spaniards were defeated and retired in disorder. During their retreat they were set upon and entirely cut to pieces by the llaneros of Paez. While Bolivar pursued his victories in the west, Piar, the Negro leader, wrested from the Spaniards the provinces of Guiana, his land force being supported by Brion's fleet of gun-boats. On 15 April ten days after Bolivar had left that city in search of new recruits, Barcelona was captured by the Spaniards, who slaughtered the garrison, comprising the entire force that he had collected up to that time ; but a new army was enlisted, and by the middle of July the royalists had evacuated all the provinces. On 20 July while Bolivar was absent, Piar, Zea, Mari-No, Arismendi, and the other military chiefs summoned at Angostura a provincial congress, which recorded a decision to vest the executive powers in a triumvirate, consisting of Bolivar and two associates. On hearing of this action, Bolivar hastened to Angostura, and, supported by Brion, dissolved the congress, suppressed the powers of the triumvirate, and proclaimed a supreme council of the nation, consisting of himself as chief with Louis Brion and Antonio Francisco Zea as assistants, the former being the director of the military, and the latter of the political department. Piar, who assailed the character of Bolivar, stigmatizing him as a "Napoleon of retreat," was arrested and tried by a council of war, presided over by Brion, on a charge of conspiring against the whites, plotting against the life of Bolivar, and aiming at the supreme power. He was convicted, condemned to death, and shot on 16 October 1817. Warned by the fate of Piar, Marino desisted from his rivalry with Bolivar and wrote an abject letter, throwing himself upon the mercy of the liberator. Bolivar had an army of 9,000 well-armed, equipped, and provisioned troops, double the Spanish force in the country; yet the patriot forces were so scattered that in the campaign that followed they were beaten in detail a dozen times, and by the end of May 1818, were driven from the provinces north of the Orinoco. Defection and discontent were rife. Bolivar retired to Angostura, where he fell in with Santander, a citizen of New Granada, who informed him that the people of that colony were prepared for a general revolt, and begged for assistance in invading the country. Bolivar aided him to carry out that project ; and English, French. German, and Polish officers flocked to Angostura and offered their services to Bolivar, while supplies, vessels, arms, and volunteers came from England. On the advice of Dr. Roscio, Bolivar summoned, on 15 February 1819, a national congress at Angostura, and was soon in a position to put 14,000 men in the field and resume the offensive. At the opening of the congress he submitted a detailed exposition of his views of government, and offered to surrender his powers into the hands of the congress, which, however, requested him to retain the supreme authority until the independence of the country should be completely established.

Bolivar then reorganized the army and decided upon a bold strategical plan to march over the Cordilleras, unite with Santander's guerrillas, seize Bogota, and drive the Spaniards out of New Granada, after first inducing them to concentrate their forces in Venezuela by a diversion in the coast provinces of that country. On 24 February 1819, he left Angostura with the army, after nominating Zea president of the congress and vice-president of the republic during his absence. By the bold and successful maneuvers of Paez, Morillo and La Torre were routed at Achaguas, a victory that resulted in the occupation of the province of Barima, leaving the way open into New Granada. Bolivar's daring and original plan of campaign was entirely successful, tie marched his army, a third part of his troops consisting of Englishmen and other foreigners, through the difficult passes of the Andes in June encountered and defeated the enemy on 1 July in the province of Tunja, entered the town of Tunja on 23 July after a sharp battle on the adjoining heights, and decided the fate of Bogota and of all New Granada on 7 August by the victory of Boyaca. On 12 August the liberator made his triumphal entry into Santa Fe. All the provinces of New Granada rose against the Spaniards, who shut themselves up in the fortified town of Mompox. After organizing a government in Bogota and leaving General Santander as commander-in-chief, Bolivar returned to Montecal, in Venezuela, where he had ordered the patriot leaders to assemble with their forces, arriving there on 3 November 1819. Morillo had fallen back before the attacks of Paez from San Fernando de Apure to San Carlos; but internal discord prevented Bolivar from following up these victories and crushing the Spanish force, now reduced to 4,500, with his army of 9,000 men. In October 1819, the congress at Angostura compelled Zea to resign, and elected Arismendi in his place. Bolivar, upon hearing of this, marched upon Angostura with his foreign legion, restored Vice-President Zea, and arrested Arismendi and exiled him to the island of Margarita. He then proclaimed the republic of Colombia, securing the enactment of a fundamental law on 17 December 1819, for the union of the states of Venezuela and New Granada under his presidency, with a common congress and a single constitution. The seat of government was transferred provisionally to Rosario de Cueuta, on the border-line between the two provinces. The absence of the foreign legion and the patriot commander gave Morillo an opportunity to collect re-enforcements, and the Spaniards were encouraged furthermore by the news of a formidable expedition about to start from Spain under O'Donnell ; but an insurrection in Spain prevented the sending of O'Donnell's expedition. Bolivar took the field again, and on 20 January 1820, returned to San Fernando de Apure. The republican army was now larger and better appointed than at any previous time, and gained important advantages over the royalists. By autumn, fifteen of the twenty-two provinces of New Granada had joined the government of Colombia, while the Spaniards still retained only Carthagena and the fortified posts on the isthmus of Panama. In Venezuela the government of the republic was effective in six out of the eight provinces. On 25 November 1820, Bolivar, probably in the hope of avoiding further bloodshed, concluded with Morillo at Truxillo an armistice of six months. On 17 December General Morillo embarked for Spain, leaving General Miguel de la Torre in command of the Spanish forces.

On 10 March 1821, Bolivar notified General La Torre that hostilities would be resumed at the expiration of thirty days. The Spaniards were strongly entrenched at Carabobo, southwest of Valencia, but had not brought up all their forces. Paez with his 3,000 llaneros, and the British legion, 1,100 strong, turned the enemy's position through a side-path and threw them into complete confusion, when Torre retreated with the remnant of his army to Puerto Cabello. This victory, which occurred on 24 June 1821, virtually ended the war in Venezuela, and Bolivar entered Caracas on 29 June. By the end of the year Puerto Cabello was the only post still held by the Spaniards. In New Granada the powerful fortress of Carthagena surrendered to General Santander on 21 September 1821. The naval battle of Maracaibo, in August 1823, and the capitulation of Puerto Cabello in July 1824, were necessary to drive the Spaniards from their last foothold. Yet after the decisive victory of Carabobo the republicans were masters of the country and free to attend to its political organization. The congress of Colombia assembled in Cucuta in May 1821, and on 30 August 1821, the constitution of the republic of Colombia was adopted with the general approval of the people. Bolivar was acclaimed the president of the new republic, notwithstanding his protests. Although he had sacrificed his enormous private fortune in the cause of independence, he renounced his claims to the annual salary of 50,000 dollars due him as president since 1819, and also to his share in the public property distributed among the generals and soldiers of the republic. The Spaniards were still in possession of the provinces of Ecuador and Peru, and Bolivar determined to effect the liberation of the whole country. At the head of his army he marched upon Quito, the chief place in Ecuador, whither the Spaniards had retired after being driven from the isthmus of Panama. A severe battle was fought at Pichincha, which was won for the republicans through the able strategy of General Sucre, Bolivar's colleague. Bolivar entered Quito in June 1822, and incorporated Quito, Pasto, and Guayaquil in the Colombian republic. Then, in response to an appeal from San Martin, the patriot leader in Peru, he left the direction of the government to the vice-president, Santander, and marched upon Lima, which was evacuated by the royalists at the approach of the Colombian army. He made a triumphal entry into the Peruvian capital on 1 September 1823, and on 10 February 1824, the congress of Lima made him dictator of Peru and authorized him to employ all the resources of the country. He tendered his resignation as president of Colombia, but was continued in that office by the vote of a large majority of the congress. The intrigues of the opposing factions in Peru forced Bolivar to retire to Truxillo, whereupon Lima was reoccupied by the Spaniards under Canterac. By June Bolivar had organized another army, which routed the advance guard of the royalist force, and, pushing forward, defeated Canterac on the plains of Junin, 6 August 1824. After this decisive victory Bolivar returned to Lima to reorganize the government, while Sucre pursued the Spaniards on their retreat through upper Peru, and shattered their forces in the final victory of Ayachuco on 9 December 1824. The Spaniards were reduced to the single post of Callao, in Peru, from which they could not be dislodged until more than a year later. On 10 February 1825. Bolivar convoked a constituent congress and resigned the dictatorship of Peru; but that body, on account of the unsettled state of the country, decided to invest him with dictatorial powers for a year longer. Congress voted him a grant of a million dollars, which• was declined.

A convention of the provinces of upper Peru was held at Chuquisaca, in August 1825, which detached that territory from the government of Buenos Ayres and constituted it a separate state, called, in honor of the liberator, Bolivia. Bolivar was declared perpetual protector of the new republic, and was requested to prepare for it a constitution. He returned to Lima after visiting upper Peru, and thence sent a project of a constitution for Bolivia, which was presented to the congress of that state on 25 May 1826, accompanied by an address in which he defined the forms of government that he conceived to be most expedient for the newly established republics. The Bolivian code, copied in some of its features from the code Napoleon, contained a provision for vesting the executive authority in a president for life, without responsibility to the legislature, and with power to nominate his successor. This proposal excited the apprehensions of a section of the republicans in Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, New Granada, and even in Buenos Ayres and Chili. The tendencies that Bolivar had manifested in the direction of political consolidation caused the alarm to spread beyond the confines of the territory affected by the new code, and he was suspected of a design to weld the South American republics into an empire and to introduce the Bolivian code and make himself perpetual dictator. Peru, as well as Bolivia, adopted the new code ; but from this time the population of the republics were divided into angry factions on questions raised by that instrument, and a long and bitter struggle ensued between the centralists, or Bolivarists, and the federalists, the military rivals of Bolivar uniting with the latter party. A serious trouble occurred in Venezuela during the absence of the president. Paez, vice-president of that republic, having been accused of arbitrary conduct in the enrolment of the militia, refused to obey the summons of the senate, and, encouraged by a strong separatist party in the northern provinces, openly rebelled against the central government. Bolivar confided affairs in Peru to a council nominated by himself, with Santa Cruz for its chief, and hastened to the scene of the disturbances, leaving Lima in September and reaching Bogota on 14 November 1826. On 23 November he issued a decree from Bogota assuming the extraordinary powers conferred upon the president in case of rebellion, and hastened to Venezuela to stop the spilling of blood, reaching Puerto Cabello on 31 December The following day he issued a proclamation declaring a general amnesty. In an interview with Paez he confirmed him in his command, and, fixing his headquarters at Caracas, checked the disturbances in the northern departments. In 1826 Bolivar and Santander were re-elected president and vice-president of Colombia for the term beginning in January 1827. In February Bolivar, in order to silence his detractors and prove that he was free from ambitious designs and interested motives, insisted on resigning the presidency and retiring into private life. Santander urged him to retract his decision, declaring that the agitations of the country could only be dispelled through the influence and authority of the liberator, while in the congress there was a majority of his supporters, and a resolution was carried requesting him to continue in the presidency. He accordingly withdrew his resignation, and repaired to Bogota to take the oath of office; but before doing so he issued a proclamation calling a national convention to be held at Ocana in March 1828. Another decree granted a general amnesty, and a third proclaimed the establishment of constitutional order throughout Colombia.

Shortly after the departure of Bolivar from Lima, the Bolivian code was adopted as the constitution of Peru, and under it the liberator was elected, on 9 December 1826, president for life. A few weeks later, while he was restoring order in Venezuela, a counter-revolution was effected in Peru by the third division of the Colombian auxiliary army, then stationed at Lima. This consisted of veteran troops under Lara and Sands, who had hitherto been the liberator's most efficacious instruments, not only in conquering the independence of the South American republics, but in imposing his own ideas of government on the states he had created, but who now became infected with the growing republican reaction against centralized power, and were filled with distrust toward Bolivar. Six weeks after the adoption of the Bolivian code the Peruvian republicans hostile to Bolivar, with the support of the Colombian troops cantoned in Lima, deposed the council appointed by Bolivar, abolished the Bolivian code, and organized a provisional government. General Lamar was chosen president of Peru, and the Colombian troops departed from her soil. Those stationed in Bolivia were expelled, with the aid of the Peruvians, and after a brief war a treaty was concluded between Colombia and Bolivia, by which the boundaries of the latter were extended to their original limits, its debt was separated from that of Colombia, and its complete independence and equality were recognized. The third division sailed from Callao on 17 March 1827, and in April landed in southern Colombia. Bolivar, who was in the north, prepared to march against the rebellious soldiery; but the latter made no attempt to carry the revolution into Colombia, and quietly submitted to General Ovando. The congress of Ocana met on 2 March 1828. A new constitution, giving the executive stronger and more permanent authority, was submitted. When it was found that the majority was opposed to its adoption, the friends of Bolivar vacated their seats, leaving the body without a quorum. From his country-seat in the neighborhood of Ocana, Bolivar published an address, which, while reprehending the proceeding of his partisans, appealed to the country to support him in introducing stability and order. Popular conventions in Bogota, Caracas, and Carthagena called upon the liberator to adopt extraordinary means to establish tranquility and security, and in August 1828, he was invested by popular elections with dictatorial powers. The anti-Bolivar republicans entered into a conspiracy to assassinate the president. Vice-President Santander and the other leaders of the party were

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