HIST 4520

Wars of Independence

I. Core vs. Periphery

A.      Clear distinctions in colonial period

1.  Urban vs. rural

a.       Urban areas more European and creole, commercial, manufacturing, centers of church and government

b.      Rural areas more racially diverse, minimal government and church influence, less cosmopolitan

2. Central regions vs. Peripheral regions

a.       Empires focused on most commercially exploitable regions

                                                            i. Mining districts of Mexico, Peru/Bolivia, Brazil

                                                            ii. Sugar (and other commercial crops) zones in islands, Brazil (primarily)

                                                            iii. These areas had high levels of Europeans and creoles, deep connections to imperial power, high levels of church and government activity

b.      Peripheral regions got less attention

                                                            i. Some developed own trading economies, generally through smuggling, primarily with British

                                                            ii.  Some areas became largely autonomous, like Paraguay

                                                            iii. Independence area initiate  here, notably in Argentina and Venezuela

3. Regional capitals vs. outlying areas

a.       In peripheral zones, support or opposition to independence often hinges on local power struggles

b.      In southern South America, some provinces resist a revolution led by Buenos Aires. Similar issues in New Granada

B.      In general, core areas defend the empire, peripheral areas fight it, but always tempered by local politics and interests

II. Economic Systems

A.      Late commercial centers start revolution

1. Imperial monopolies had concentrated trade in certain core areas

2. This results in late commercial development for many peripheral areas, notably Venezuela and Argentina

3. As such, these regions build commercial economy in “modern” era, supplying  raw materials to major industrial-commercial regions in Europe, notably Great Britain

4. Saw their interests lying outside the controls of the imperial systems

5. Not all peripheral zones have same interests

a.       Uruguay, with similar economics to Argentina and Venezuela, joins revolution quickly

b.      Isolated Chile, with a small but prosperous elite, resisted independence

c.       Central America needed trade badly, but only Mexican independence would enable their independence (and make it inevitable)

B.      Core regions depended on imperial system for wealth

1. Capital centers prospered not only from trade, but from taxation and control of monopolies

2. Greatest resistance to revolution came from oldest capital centers – Mexico City and Lima

III. Politics of Race and Class

A.      Elites resisted revolution when threatened by large non-white populations

1. Peruvian and Mexican elites feared Amerindian uprisings

2. In islands and Brazil, main fear is slave revolts

3. Gran Columbian elites react based on local conditions

a.       Complex racial dynamics produces elite resistance in Venezuela

b.      A more homogenous population in Columbia leads to greater elite support

4. Hidalgo deliberately ignites a race war in Mexico as a means to break elite resistance and bring about independence

B.      Racial homogeneity eases path to revolutions, notably in Paraguay and Columbia

C.      Brazilian elites need royal power to control non-white majority; arrival of royal court in Brazil opens up possibility of independence

IV. Role of Caudillos and other power elites

A.      Breakdown of imperial system creates power vacuums

B.      Bolivar, San Martin, others, step into that void

C.      Charismatic caudillos can alter political dynamics

1. Boves leads the cowboys (llaneros) of Venezuela to support the Spanish

2. Paez will later bring them over to the side of independence

D.      Presence of Portuguese royalty in Brazil eases transition to independence