I. General roots of Independence

A.      An age of Revolution

1.  Multiple wars in 1600 and 1700s for dominance between France and Britain

2.  Leads to American Revolution in 1700s – will be taken as a model by many Latin American revolutionaries

3.  Haitian Revolution (1789-1804)

a.       Clearly non-French culture has emerged among slaves with own language (Haitian creole) and religion (vodun)

b.      Racial tension between French whites, native whites, and mulattos

c.       War breaks out between the three in aftermath of French Revolution

d.      In turn triggers a revolt by the slaves

e.      Results in decade long very bloody civil war and war against French occupiers

f.        Would stand as a warning to Spanish and Portuguese elites about dangers of revolution

B.      Rational system of Bourbons and broke down very personal loyalty creole elites felt to Crown

C.      Bourbon efforts to impose more control over Church led elites to rethink power of Church

D.      Desire for trade with rising British economy

E.       Creole desire for respect and autonomy

II. Beginnings of the end of empire

A.      Napoleon invades Spain and Portugal (1807)

1.   Arrests Carlos IV (who had just abdicated) and son Fernando VII of Spain, puts own brother on throne

2. Portuguese royal family (Braganzas), led by Joao VI,  escapes to Brazil with 10,000 aides and servants and with help of British

B.      Most elites in Spanish empire declare loyalty to imprisoned Ferdinand VII

C.      Allegiance to Spain wavers

1. Cadiz Cortes (resistance government in Spain) becomes to liberal for many colonial elites

2. Conflicts break out between creoles and peninsulares; creoles oust peninsulares and form ruling juntas

3.  Most rebellions of the 1808 to 1814 period defeated, except in Argentina and Paraguay

4. Ferdinand VII returned to throne in 1814, seeks to impose absolutism triggering further revolts

III. Core vs. Periphery

A.      Clear distinctions in colonial period result in distinct reactions to independence

1. 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

2. 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

IV. 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

a.       Notably, produce two most important military leaders of independence wars

b.      Simón Bolívar (Venezuela)

c.       José de San Martín (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

V. 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

VI. 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