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Simon Bolivar, the Liberator by Guillermo A. Sherwell

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officers and friends, among them Piar and Ribas, himself.

Before leaving Venezuela, the Liberator issued a proclamation, for he never
neglected an opportunity to speak to his fellow-countrymen and to the world
in order to build up favorable public opinion, by which he hoped to win
a final victory. In that document Bolivar emphasized the fact that the
Spaniards themselves had done very little harm in the fields of battle to
the cause of independence, and that defeats were due mainly to the native
royalists. This assertion was intended to produce a change of mind on the
part of the native population.

"It seems that Heaven, to grant us at one time humiliation and pride,
has permitted that our conquerors be our own brothers, and that our
brothers only may triumph over us. The army of freedom exterminated the
enemy's force, but it could not and should not exterminate the men for
whose happiness it fought in hundreds of battles. It is not just to
destroy the men who do not want to be free, nor can freedom be enjoyed
under strength of arms against the opinion of fanatics whose depraved
souls make them love chains as though they were social ties.... Your
brothers and not the Spaniards have torn your bosom, shed your blood,
set your homes on fire and condemned you to exile."

He then affirmed that he was going to Nueva Granada to render an account of
his conduct and to have an impartial judgment, and finished by asserting to
the Venezuelans that the people of Nueva Granada would again help them, and
that he would always be on the side of liberty.

The East was soon subjected, and all Venezuela was once again under the
yoke of Spain, mainly through the work of her own children. During these
campaigns Piar and Ribas and the brave General Bermudez, of whom we shall
speak later, were united for a while, but at last each one took his own
way. The only good thing that occurred at this time was Boves' death in a
battle in December, 1814. Morales was still left as Venezuela's curse.

Ribas, after a defeat, was traveling with two officers. He was sick and
sad. He lay down to rest under a tree while his servant went to a near-by
town to obtain some provisions. The servant betrayed his master, and Ribas
was imprisoned. In the town he was humiliated and insulted. Then he was
killed. His head was sent to Caracas and placed in an iron cage at the
entrance of the city. His wife, who was Bolivar's aunt, locked herself in a
room and swore not to go out until freedom was achieved, and she remained
true to her vow.

Bolivar and Marino arrived in Cartagena on September 25, 1814. The former
was on his way to Tunja to render an account of his Venezuelan campaign,
when he learned that some Venezuelan troops commanded by General Urdaneta,
who were in the territory of Nueva Granada, were quarreling with the native
soldiers. He went directly to the army to try to prevent anarchy and
dissensions between the Venezuelans and the natives of Nueva Granada. The
news proved to be false. The army of Urdaneta, which had left Venezuela to
await in the land of Nueva Granada new instructions from the Liberator,
and had obtained the protection of that government, received him with the
greatest enthusiasm.

From there Bolivar proceeded to Tunja, where he was very well received by
Congress. He requested that his conduct be examined and impartially judged.
The President of the Congress answered him with the following magnanimous

"General, your country is not vanquished while your sword exists. With
this sword you will again rescue her from the power of her oppressors.
The Congress of Nueva Granada will give you its protection because it
is satisfied with your conduct. You have been an unfortunate general,
but you are a great man."

Then the Congress ordered him to liberate Santa Fe (Bogota), a part of
Nueva Granada, which had been separated from the Union. Bolivar with his
usual activity proceeded to Bogota, reached the outskirts of the city and,
promising immunity of properties and honor, offered a capitulation. The
commander of the garrison refused to accept and an assault followed, the
result of which was the surrender of the city. Bolivar was rewarded with
the title of _Capitan General_ of the Army of the Confederation, and
Congress immediately transferred the capital from Tunja to Santa Fe.

Congress asked Bolivar to direct the campaign to protect Nueva Granada
against the royalists. So he decided to take Santa Marta, the only place in
the country which was still in the hands of the Spaniards; then he planned
to fight once more for the liberty of Venezuela. Before adjourning, to meet
again in Santa Fe, the Congress at Tunja conferred on Bolivar the official
title of Pacificador (Peacemaker), which is frequently used with reference
to him, but not so generally as the title he himself used in preference to
any other: Libertador.

On this occasion Bolivar could not count on certain troops of Cartagena
because of the hostility of Castillo, the commander, who had had
differences with Bolivar, and was jealous of his glory. These dissensions
hindered Bolivar's advance towards Santa Marta, and produced delays which
resulted in great loss of provisions, and also of men because of an
epidemic of smallpox which developed in the army. To avoid further
dissension, Bolivar was willing to resign without using force against the
Cartagena contingent. He was unwilling to permit the royalists to learn of
disagreements in the independent army. He had at last, however, to make
ready to take the city and was going to lay siege to it when it was learned
that a great Spanish army had arrived in Venezuela. The delay of the
independent soldiers before Cartagena permitted some royalist troops to
take other cities of Nueva Granada, causing great losses of men and arms on
different occasions. Bolivar lost 1,000 men; 100 artillery guns and other
armament were also lost, as well as the boats upon which the army counted
and which would have been very useful to capture the city of Santa Marta.
At last, convinced that there was no remedy for the situation, Bolivar
determined to resign, and he called for an assembly of his officers, who
accepted his resignation. He embarked for Jamaica, first issuing another
warning against the disunion of the patriots.

"No tyrant," he said, "has been destroyed by your arms; they have been
stained with the blood of brothers in two struggles which have produced
in us an equal sorrow."

The departure of Bolivar was very soon to be deplored by the armies of the

We have mentioned that a Spanish army had arrived in Venezuela, and we must
give some details concerning that expedition. Never in the history of the
Spanish domination and struggles in America did Spain send such a numerous,
well-equipped and powerful army as the one mentioned above. It was
commanded by Field-Marshal D. Pablo Morillo.


_Bolivar in Exile and Morillo in Power. The "Jamaica Letter"_


At that time Napoleon's luck was beginning to turn in Europe. He had been
forced to free Fernando VII, who had been imprisoned since 1808. Fernando
VII started to govern his country as a despot, disregarding the national
constitution and the public clamor for greater freedom, and soon decided to
assert his power in the New World. For that purpose he organized a powerful
army, the total strength of which, exclusive of sailors, was nearly
men, supplied with implements for attacks on fortified places, and with
everything necessary for warfare on a large scale. This army was placed
under the command of Morillo, who also brought with him a number of
warships and transports. The soldiers had had experience in the European
war and they had proved equal or superior to the armies of Napoleon. The
plan was to seize Venezuela and Nueva Granada, then go southward to Peru,
and then to Buenos Aires.

Morillo decided to land in the island of Margarita, whose inhabitants had
distinguished themselves by their heroism in the long war for independence
to such an extent that, upon becoming a province, the island changed its
name to New Sparta. Two men of equal bravery, Arismendi and Bermudez, were
in command of a few more than 400 men. Morales was about to lead 5,000 to
6,000 men against the island, with 32 boats, of which 12 were armed with
artillery, when Morillo appeared with his huge army. Arismendi decided
to surrender. However, Bermudez would not surrender, and, with reckless
daring, he got into a small boat, passed between Morillo's large vessels,
insulting the occupants, and then made his escape, going to join the
patriots in Cartagena.

Morillo was a very clever soldier; it is said that Wellington himself
recommended that he should be chosen, as the Spaniard ablest to subject
Venezuela and New Granada. He was as harsh as he was clever, and was ready
to wage a war of extermination. By the time Morillo reached the continent,
Venezuela was in the hands of Spain. That was at the end of 1814, a fatal
year for the cause of independence. From New Spain to the south, the
Spanish armies seemed to encounter no resistance. Morillo likened the
silence and peace he found everywhere to the silence and peace of the
cemeteries. There was no government anywhere, not even military authority.
Crime prevailed; cupidity and vengeance were the guiding principles of the

After leaving a garrison at Margarita and Cumana, Morillo went to Caracas,
where he arrived on the 11th of May, immediately taking Cagigal's place as
captain general. There he published a proclamation announcing that he was
ready to go to Nueva Granada with his army, and, after levying exorbitant
tributes in money from the citizens and securing in the most outrageous
manner all the provisions he could possibly obtain, he sailed from Puerto
Cabello for Cartagena with 8,500 men, while Morales with 3,500 advanced by
land against the city.

Cartagena resisted the siege in such an admirable manner as to have her
name placed side by side with the most heroic cities of history. The
besiegers had all kinds of war material; the city lacked all. Still,
Cartagena fought constantly during one hundred and six days. The city
was then almost in ruins; its inhabitants were starving in the gutters;
soldiers and civilians were dying. When Morillo entered its streets he
found them almost deserted, and he made the few remaining persons suffer
the worst tortures he could devise. The able-bodied men succeeded in
escaping by sea.

Several more victories placed all of Nueva Granada in the power of Morillo.
The Congress had to dissolve and the Spaniards entered Santa Fe, marking
their entrance with the execution of more than 600 Americans, among them
men of the greatest prominence and highest social standing. All hope for
the liberty of South America seemed to be lost.

Bolivar arrived in Kingston in May, 1815, where he was very well received
personally by the governor. But he failed to obtain any substantial help
for an expedition to the mainland. Learning of the propaganda being made
everywhere against the cause of independence, he once more used his pen to
counteract this influence. His most important writing during his stay in
Jamaica was a letter addressed on September 6, 1815, to a gentleman of the
island, in which he analyzed the causes of the American failure and the
reasons he had to hope for the final success of the cause. The "Letter
of Jamaica" is counted as one of the greatest documents from the pen of

First, he examines all the errors and crimes committed by the Spaniards
in America, describes the partial success of the American armies and the
development of the war, as well as the enormous sacrifices made for the
cause of independence everywhere, from New Spain to the provinces of the
River Plata and Chile. He deprecates the attitude of Europe, which does not
intervene to save America from the clutches of an oppressive government,
and proves that even for the good of Europe, the independence of America
should be secured.

"Europe itself," he said, "by reasons of wholesome policies, should
have prepared and carried out the plan of American independence, not
only because it is so required for the balance of the world, but
because this is a legitimate and safe means of obtaining commercial
posts on the other side of the ocean."

He very exactly described the true condition of the American people in the
following lucid way:

"I consider the actual state of America as when, after the coll
of the Roman Empire, each member constituted a political system in
conformity with its interests and position, but with this great
difference: that these scattered members reestablished the old
nationalities with the alterations required by circumstances or events.
But we, who scarcely keep a vestige of things of the past, and who, on
the other hand, are not Indians nor Europeans, but a mixture of the
legitimate owners of the country and the usurping Spaniards; in short,
we, being Americans by birth and with rights equal to those of Europe,
have to dispute these rights with the men of the country, and to
maintain ourselves against the possession of the invaders. Thus, we
find ourselves in the most extraordinary and complicated predicament."

After analyzing slavery in the abstract, he said:

"Americans, under the Spanish system now in vigor, have in society no
other place than that of serfs fit for work, and, at the most, that of
simple consumers; and even this is limited by absurd restrictions, such
as prohibition of the cultivation of European products; the mono
of certain goods in the hands of the king; the prevention of the
establishment in America of factories not possessed by Spain; the
exclusive privileges of trade, even regarding the necessities of life;
the obstacles placed in the way of the American provinces so that they
may not deal with each other, nor have understandings, nor trade. In
short, do you want to know what was our lot? The fields, in which to
cultivate indigo, cochineal, coffee, sugar cane, cocoa, cotton; the
solitary plains, to breed cattle; the deserts, to hunt the wild beasts;
the bosom of the earth, to extract gold, with which that avaricious
country was never satisfied."

* * * * *

"We were never viceroys or governors except by very extraordinary
reasons; archbishops and bishops, seldom; ambassadors, never; military
men, only as subordinates; nobles, without privileges; lastly, we were
neither magistrates nor financiers, and hardly merchants. All this we
had to accept in direct opposition to our institutions.

"The Americans have risen suddenly and without previous preparation
and without previous knowledge and, what is more deplorable, without
experience in public affairs, to assume in the world the eminent
dignity of legislators, magistrates, administrators of the public
treasury, diplomats, generals and all the supreme and subordinate
authorities which form the hierarchy of an organized state.

"The events of the mainland have proved that perfectly representative
institutions do not agree with our character, habits, and present state
of enlightenment.... So long as our fellow citizens do not acquire the
talents and the political virtues which distinguish our brothers of the
North, who have a system of government altogether popular in character,
I am very much afraid these institutions might lead to our ruin instead
of aiding us....

"I desire more than anybody else to see the formation in America
the greatest nation in the world, not so much as to its extension and
wealth as to its glory and freedom."

* * * * *

"Monsignor de Pradt has wisely divided America into fifteen or
seventeen independent states, ruled by as many monarchs. I agree on the
first point, for America could be divided into seventeen countries
As for the second point, although it is easier to realize, it is less
useful, and, consequently, I am not in favor of American monarchies.
Here are my reasons: The real interests of a republic are circumscribed
in the sphere of its conservation, prosperity and glory. Since freedom
is not imperialistic, because it is opposed to empires, no impulse
induces Republicans to extend the limits of their country; injuring its
own center, with only the object of giving their neighbors a liberal
constitution. They do not acquire any right nor any advantage by
conquering them, unless they reduce them to colonies, conquered
territories or allies, following the example of Rome.... A state too
large in itself, or together with its dependent territories, finally
decays and its free form reverts to a tyrannical one, the principles
which should conserve it relax, and at last it evolves into despotism.
The characteristic of the small republics is permanency; that of the
large ones is varied, but always tends to an empire. Almost all of the
former have been of long duration; among the latter Rome alone lived
for some centuries, but this was because the capital was a republic,
and the rest of her dominions were not, for they governed themselves by
different laws and constitutions."

Then Bolivar ventures to prophesy the destiny of all nations of the
continent, from Mexico to the River Plata, and he does so with such
accuracy of vision that almost to the word the history of the first half
century of independence in Latin America was shaped according to his
prediction. The tranquility of Chile, the tyranny of Rosas in Argentina,
the Mexican empire, all were clearly seen in the future by his genius. Near
the close of his letter, he adds these inspired words:

"How beautiful it would be if the Isthmus of Panama should come to be
to us what the Isthmus of Corinth was to the Greeks! May God g
that some day we may have the happiness of installing there an august
congress of the representatives of the republics, kingdoms and empires,
to discuss and study the high interests of peace and war with the
nations of the other three parts of the world! This kind of cooperation
may be established in some happy period of our regeneration...."

He ends this capital document of his career as a political writer, by
pleading again for union as the only means of putting an end to Spanish
domination, in America.

Nothing better can be said than the following words of a biographer of

"Alone, poor, in a foreign land, when his friends had denied him and
had persecuted him, and his enemies had torn him to shreds in blind
rage, when everybody saw America carrying once again the yoke imposed
upon her, Bolivar saw her redeemed, and from the depth of his soul he
felt himself bound to this wonderful task of redemption. His spirit,
animated by an unknown breath, and which had lived a superior life, saw
Colombia free, Chile established, Argentina expanding, Mexico
Peru liberated, the Isthmus of Panama converted into the center of
communications and activities of human industry; it saw South America
divided into powerful nationalities, having passed from slavery to
struggle and to the conquest of her own dignity, and from the times of
the sword to those of political civilization and organization of power;
national units weighty in the statistics of the world by reason of
their products, by their commerce, by their culture, by their wars,
their alliances, their laws, their free governments; with names of
their own, with famous histories, with supreme virtues. All that
Bolivar saw, and of all that Bolivar wrote. Can human intelligence go
any farther?"

[Footnote 1: Larrazabal, "Vida del Libertador Simon Bolivar," Vol. I. page


_Bolivar's Expedition and New Exile. He Goes to Guayana_


While in Jamaica, Bolivar was as active as he had been in Venezuela. While
he used his pen to teach the world the meaning of the South American
Revolution, and to try and obtain friends for the cause of freedom, he
worked actively in the Island and in other parts of the West Indies to
organize an expedition to the continent.

In this work he was very greatly helped by Luis Brion,--a wealthy merchant
of Curacao,--who sacrificed practically all of his private fortune in
helping the cause of Liberty.

The influence exercised by the Holy Alliance on the governments of Europe
had some effect on the authorities of Jamaica, who hindered the assembling
of munitions of war by Bolivar. He then decided to go to the Republic of
Haiti, after having escaped almost by a miracle, an assassin who, believing
that he was asleep in a hammock where he usually rested, stabbed to death a
man occupying Bolivar's customary place. The assassin was a slave set free
by Bolivar.

On his way to Haiti he learned of the surrender of Cartagena. The President
of Haiti, Alexander Petion, received Bolivar in a most friendly way, and
gave him very substantial assistance in the preparations for his expedition
to the continent. The men who had succeeded in escaping from Cartagena were
also well received by Petion, and treated in a most hospitable manner.
Among them many were personal enemies of Bolivar. None the less, Bolivar
was elected supreme head of the expedition, and the refugees from Cartagena
followed him in his new undertaking, with Marino as Major General of the
Army and Brion as Admiral. About 250 persons constituted the party, but
they carried enough ammunition to arm six thousand men, whom they hoped to
gather together on the continent. Once more Bolivar seemed to undertake the
impossible, but, as ever, he had full confidence in the ultimate triumph
of liberty. The proportion of his enemies to his followers was 100 to 1.
Public opinion was still against him, but he was still the same man who, at
that time more than any other, had become a symbol--the symbol of America's

Bolivar made his way to the Island of Margarita, where the Spanish
commander had systematically carried on a work of destruction of wealth and
humiliation of families.

In November of 1815, Arismendi, the man who had submitted to Morillo, again
proclaimed independence in the Island and started to fight with no better
arms than clubs and farm implements. The Governor determined to destroy the
population of the Island, even allowing his anger to fall on Arismendi's
own wife,--but Arismendi continued fighting and, knowing his attitude,
Bolivar decided to come to Margarita before touching the continent. On that
island Bolivar reorganized the government of the Republic in its third
period and was again proclaimed Supreme Chief of the Republic, while Marino
was designated Second Chief. Then Bolivar called for the election of
deputies and proclaimed that he would stop the War to Death, provided the
Spaniards would also stop waging war in a ruthless way. The Captain General
answered by offering 10,000 pesos for the head of either Bolivar, Bermudez,
Marino, Piar, Brion or Arismendi. From Margarita the undaunted Libertador
went to the continent, landing in Carupano, from which place he sent Marino
to fight in the east, in the land of his old victories, where he was well
known; and organized a military school to prepare officers, and worked
with his usual activity in the organization of the army, while a popular
assembly gathered in the city and again accepted Bolivar as Supreme Chief.

Marino and Piar, the latter fostering the ambitions of the former, started
again to act against the orders of the Libertador. Several partial defeats
made the condition of the insurgents so critical that Bolivar made up his
mind to leave the east and commence operations in the west, as he had
previously done. On July 6, he and his men landed in Ocumare de la Costa, a
port north of Valencia, proclaimed the cessation of the War to Death,
and offered pardon to all those who surrendered, even though they were
Spaniards. He also proclaimed the freedom of all slaves, thereby fulfilling
a promise made to President Petion of Haiti.

"Henceforward," he said, "in Venezuela, there will be only one class of
men: all will be citizens."

From there Brion was sent to do as much damage as possible to the Spanish
sea trade, and he also received a commission to get in touch with the
government of Washington, and with the patriots of Mexico. The royalists
organized a strong veteran army and attacked Bolivar, who, with his
inexperienced soldiers, could not resist, and had to leave Ocumare. One of
his followers, called MacGregor, who had been sent with some men by Bolivar
into the interior of the country, decided to go and join the guerrillas who
were fighting the royalists in the interior; and his daring movement was
crowned with success, for he and his men advanced through the plains,
fighting the royalists, or dodging them when they were too numerous to be
fought. In that way they covered a distance of over four hundred miles, at
last joining the forces fighting near the Orinoco. Again deprived of his
prestige, Bolivar was deposed and Marino and Bermudez were elected first
and second chiefs. Bolivar had to return to Haiti. His deposition was
not well received by the chiefs of the guerrillas, who were fighting the
royalists in the interior. Bolivar--undaunted as ever--thought only of
organizing an expedition to assist those who were fighting in Venezuela.
Petion once more rendered him substantial aid. He was invited to go to
Mexico and help in the War of Independence of New Spain, but he declined,
and instead continued to make preparations to go back to fight for his

The different commanders had obtained some partial successes, but they soon
recognized the necessity of Bolivar's leadership, and sent Arismendi to
Port-au-Prince to ask him to return. Admiral Brion also besought him to go
back to Venezuela. At the end of December Bolivar reached Margarita Island
with some Venezuelan exiles. Once there, he issued a proclamation convoking
an assembly, for his paramount desire was to have the military power
subordinated to the civil government.

On January 1, 1817, Bolivar once more set foot on the continent, this time
never to leave it. The lessons learned through failures had been well
learned, and new plans were taking shape in his mind. He was thinking of
the freedom of all America, not only of Venezuela, and started plans for
the freedom of New Granada and Peru: all this when he had no soldiers
to command, except 400 men under Arismendi, to which 300 were added by
conscription. He advanced towards Caracas, but was defeated, and had to
return to Barcelona, leaving all his war provisions in the hands of
the enemy. He then had 600 men, and he knew that an army of over 5,000
royalists was advancing against the city. At first he thought of resisting
the enemy, counting on the help of Marino, who was at that time in the
South, and who, in fact, hastened to the rescue. Marino and Bermudez
entered Barcelona and Bolivar received them with joy. Nevertheless, he
understood that he could not stay in that city. It was clear that the
best method of resistance would consist in attacking the royalists from
different and unexpected angles. He concluded that he must leave Barcelona
and go to the Orinoco Valley and the Province of Guayana (Venezuelan
Guiana). Several of his officers opposed the idea so strongly that at last
Bolivar was induced to leave some men to protect the city and send the rest
to Guayana, under the command of Marino. The men left in Barcelona were
sacrificed by the royalists. In April Bolivar crossed the Orinoco and
afterwards met Piar, who was besieging the City of Angostura, the most
important position of Guayana. Piar had been fighting in that section with
some success since the end of 1816.

The inconstancy of Marino showed itself once more, although in this
instance his conduct was opposed by Bermudez and other officers. He did not
give opportune help to Barcelona, and tried to foster his own ambitions
instead of collaborating with Bolivar. Without the support of Marino and
with Barcelona lost, Bolivar found himself in a very difficult situation,
counting more on his own genius than on human help. Morillo, master of
Nueva Granada, had come from Santa Fe and destroyed most of the insurgent
forces existing in the western part of Venezuela. He had received more
reinforcements from Spain. Bolivar, nevertheless, continued his work with
his all powerful faith, trying to have his dreams proved true by the effort
of his will. "We shall conquer them and we shall free America," he used
to say. The greatest support that Bolivar found at that time was that of
General Piar's troops.

In order to supplant Bolivar, Marino convoked a congress, which proved to
be a farce, having but ten members. Marino solemnly resigned his place
of second in command of the army and also resigned on behalf of Bolivar,
without the slightest authorization from his chief. The "congress"
appointed Marino supreme chief of the army and decided to establish the
capital of the republic in Margarita. The other heads of the army refused
to recognize the usurper, and many of them, among whom the foremost
was Colonel Antonio Jose Sucre, went to Guayana to join the legitimate
commander. Marino himself at last abruptly dissolved the congress. Bolivar,
with his usual prudence, did not show that he noticed the attitude of his
second, and praised General Piar for his triumphs, knowing, nevertheless,
by that time, that he could not count on the personal loyalty of the

While attending to the operations of the siege Bolivar did not neglect his
usual administrative work. He organized a system of military justice so as
to avoid the arbitrariness of the military chieftains and, being aware
that Piar had tried to foster the disloyalty of Marino, he endeavored
to convince him of his folly, and said very plainly that unless these
machinations were stopped, great evils must be expected.

Admiral Brion came with his boats to the Orinoco in order to help in
the siege of Angostura. When he arrived in the river, the royalists of
Angostura decided to abandon the city, which fell into the hands of the
independents, Bermudez being the first to occupy it. Bolivar found himself
for the first time behind his enemy and was ready to fight against his foes
in the position that his foes had held in the past. He obtained, besides,
great resources in cattle and horses, and it seemed possible that he might
obtain the cooeperation of the plainsmen of the Apure Valley, the old
followers of Boves, now followers of Jose Antonio Paez, a lover of personal
liberty and a sworn foe of the Spanish regime.


_Piar's Death. Victory of Calabozo. Second Defeat at La Puerta. Submission
of Paez_


Morillo, who had lost a great part of his army and his prestige trying to
conquer the Island of Margarita, was obliged to withdraw when he discovered
that Bolivar had become master of Guayana. The two leaders were soon again
confronting each other on the mainland.

Bolivar, who had always been conciliatory towards his personal enemies and
who had tried to make friends with all the chieftains, had been constantly
preaching union among all the elements fighting for independence. He had,
however, met with slight success, and a moment came when he realized that
he must use strong measures in order to have discipline in his army. Piar
tried to induce certain officers to establish a council for the purpose of
curtailing the authority of Bolivar. The Liberator tried persuasion, but
failed. Piar decided to leave the army. He pretended to be sick and,
offering to go to one of the islands of the Caribbean, requested leave of
absence, which was granted.

Once having obtained his leave of absence, he became Bolivar's open foe; he
remained in Venezuela and came back to Angostura, where he intrigued with
other chieftains, and tried to get the support of Bermudez to deprive
Bolivar of his command. Peaceful means failing again to win over Piar,
Bolivar ordered his apprehension. Piar fled to Marino, and began enlisting
soldiers to resist. He enjoyed great prestige; he had been a distinguished
general and in bravery, daring, skill and personal magnetism, no one
surpassed him. Bolivar referred with his officers and, after being assured
of the support of all, he ordered the apprehension of Piar, who was
abandoned by his own followers and fell into the hands of Bolivar's agents.

Piar was court-martialed and was sentenced to death. Bolivar confirmed the
sentence and Piar died with the same bravery and serenity he had shown on
the field of battle. Bolivar deplored the fate of the valiant general, but
with this action succeeded in obtaining a greater measure of respect and
obedience from the army than he had been able to secure with his former

As a measure of justice and wisdom, Bolivar, on the 3rd of September, 1817,
decreed the distribution of national wealth among the officers and soldiers
of the Republic as a reward for their services. A council of state was
established, and the General rendered to it an account of his work and
presented an exposition of the state of the national affairs. In his
address he explained the division of the powers of the state, and freely
praised all the generals of the insurgent army, mentioning General Paez,
the chieftain of the _llaneros_ (plainsmen), who was the terror of the
royalists and whose support was becoming of paramount importance to the
Liberator. He declared that Angostura was to be the provisional capital of
Venezuela until the city of Caracas could be retaken from the royalists.
Then he divided the administration into three sections,--state and finance,
war and navy, and interior and justice, putting in each the man best
prepared for the position.

In order to carry out his decision to advance against Caracas, he first
made sure that he could count on the assistance of Paez. The latter
agreed to fight in combination with Bolivar on condition that he would
be absolutely independent and have full power in the territory under his
command. Paez was one of the most remarkable characters of the revolution
of independence and the early years of Venezuela. He was a young man when
he came in touch with Bolivar,--strong, attractive, every inch a warrior,
who lived with his plainsmen just as they lived, living with, and caring
for, his horse as the others did, eating the same food as they did, and
fighting whenever a chance presented itself. He was ignorant. He was
opposed to discipline and his men knew none,--they followed him because of
his prestige and because he was one of them, but better than any of them.
His men were the same kind Boves had commanded, and as Boves was terrible
with his horsemen, so was Paez, with the exception that Paez fought for the
cause of liberty and did not stain his life with the monstrosities of the
Spanish chieftain. His name was respected in the southwestern part of
Venezuela, and he was ready to fight against the army of Morillo when he
received the message of Bolivar.

Morillo concentrated his army in Calabozo, the center of the plains,
intending to attack Paez in Apure, and other patriots who operated to the
south under Zaraza. Bolivar sent General Pedro Leon Torres to support the
latter, but they were defeated in the bloody battle of La Hogaza.

Bolivar began his movement to join Paez, full of confidence in spite of the
check at La Hogaza. It was now 1818. He was wont to say "This year will see
the end of the Spanish power in Venezuela." His faith had more foundation
than during his exile and the earlier expeditions, when, with a handful
of men, he had started to fight against the great armies organized by the
Spanish government. Public opinion was now beginning to swing towards him;
he had Paez and his plainsmen on his side and he counted on the great
resources of Guayana.

His activity was astonishing. In a month and a half, he and his men
traveled 900 miles to join Paez. As they advanced, his forces were being
disciplined, organized, strengthened and made ready to fight. Owing to his
personal prestige, and his unbelievable daring, Paez was of inestimable
value. On one occasion he promised Bolivar to have boats at a certain place
so that the army could cross the Apure River. When Bolivar arrived at the
point in question with the army, he found that there were no boats ready.
When Paez was questioned by the Libertador, he replied:

"Oh, yes, Sir, I am counting on the boats."

"But where are they?" Bolivar asked.

"The enemy has them," said Paez, indicating some royalists' launches and
canoes across the river.

While Bolivar was wondering what Paez meant by that, the latter called
fifty of his men and with them jumped into the river with their unsaddled
horses, swam through it, defeated the enemy, and brought the boats across.
Bolivar's forces were then able to pass. Immediately the armies of
independence advanced to Calabozo, with such swiftness that Morillo knew
of their advance only when they had arrived. The Spaniards were utterly
defeated and Morillo himself barely escaped falling prisoner. Bolivar could
have advanced and finished the destruction of the royalist army, but Paez
and other officers were opposed to this course, and the commander-in-chief
had to yield.

Soon after this, Bolivar was again in La Victoria, between Valencia and
Caracas, having occupied the rich valley of Aragua, in which he had lived
as a young man of wealth, and had passed years of suffering. He immediately
sent proclamations ordering all men able to fight to present themselves
with arms and horses for the service of the Republic. He called on those
who had been slaves to defend their own freedom, and urged the manufacture
and repair of arms. His position was by no means secure. Morillo was in
Valencia, and don Miguel de Latorre, the victor of La Hogaza, was in
Caracas. A triumph of Morillo over some patriots near Valencia forced the
Liberator to retreat in haste from La Victoria. When Morillo learned of his
retreat, he immediately went on with his persecution and at last met the
independent army in a place called La Puerta, where, on March 15, 1818, he
inflicted on Bolivar perhaps the greatest of his defeats, although at great
loss to himself, and suffering severe wounds. The Spanish authorities
thought that Bolivar would never recover from this disaster, but soon the
undaunted Liberator was again fighting the royal forces.

The defeat of La Puerta was so costly to the royalists that they did not
dare to occupy the position. It was considered so important, however, for
the cause of Spain that Morillo was rewarded with the title of Marquis
of La Puerta. Morillo waited for reinforcements to be sent to him by the
Spanish commander of Caracas, Latorre; and Bolivar, who never despaired,
immediately got ready for new struggles. He summoned Paez to his aid and
prepared for the defense of Calabozo, so that when Latorre arrived he found
a well organized army under command of the Liberator. He withdrew, and
Bolivar followed him, fighting an indecisive battle.

Convinced that he could not at that time occupy Caracas, Bolivar decided to
consolidate his position in the West, and sent his troops towards the city
of San Carlos, while he worked actively in Calabozo, and elsewhere through
his lieutenants, to increase his army. Then he went to join Paez, was
surprised and defeated on his way, being in imminent danger himself.
Furthermore, through a partial defeat of Paez and disasters of other
officers, by the end of May the insurgent forces were almost totally
destroyed. Morales, of bloody reputation, had taken Calabozo; and, in the
East, fate was against the independents, where the weakness of Marino had
caused the loss of Cumana. In other sections, the troops had rebelled
against the authority of Bolivar, and had begun to fight in the same
desultory way as before. All this was not sufficient to shake the constancy
and faith of Bolivar. He addressed a letter to Pueyrredon, Supreme Director
of the Provinces of the River Plata, using these lofty words:

"Venezuela is now in mourning, but tomorrow, covered with laurels, she
will have extinguished the last of the tyrants who now desecrate her
soil. Then she will invite you to a single association, so that our
motto may be 'Unity in South America.' All Americans should have one

Back in Angostura, with his unflinching courage, he went on reviving his
army and reorganizing the supreme government, which had been in the hands
of the Council of State during his absence. He appointed secretaries of the
cabinet and established a weekly paper to spread the new principles of the
government. He again entrusted Marino with the command of the province of
Cumana, took the necessary steps to suppress the symptoms of indiscipline
in the army, and initiated several military operations. Again, when his
means were more limited, his thoughts covered a greater field. He seemed
unable to assure the liberty of Venezuela, yet he was thinking of giving
freedom to Nueva Granada. He sent a proclamation to its inhabitants and
directed one of his generals to invade it. He said:

"The day of America has arrived, and no human power can stop the course
of nature, guided by the hand of Providence. Join your efforts to those
of your brethren. Venezuela goes with me to free you, as you in the
past with me gave freedom to Venezuela.... The sun will not end the
course of its present period without seeing altars dedicated to liberty
throughout your territory."

This promise came true.

Before undertaking this great task, he convoked a national assembly for
January 1, 1819. In his long proclamation summoning the representatives of
the people he again made a summary of the work already done, and asked the
people to select the best citizens for the places, without regard to the
fact that they might or might not have been in the army of freedom.

"For my part," he stated, "I renounce forever the authority you have
conferred upon me, and, while the fearful Venezuelan war lasts, I shall
accept none save that of a simple soldier. The first day of peace will
be the last of my command."

Venezuela had lost the best of her blood; she was nothing better than a
heap of ruins, and yet, she was preparing for new and greater undertakings.

After publishing the proclamation, he started for Cumana. Learning that
Marino had been defeated, he sent him to Barcelona, and returned to
Angostura to organize new armies. Spain, he knew, was trying to obtain the
help of the other nations of Europe to regain possession of her American
colonies. He felt it expedient, therefore, once more to manifest to the
world the attitude of Venezuela regarding her new relations with the mother
country. He published a decree on November 20, 1818, reaffirming the
principles of independence proclaimed on July 5, 1811. This decree was
published and translated into three languages, to be distributed all over
the world. After stating the reasons for its publication, he emphatically
declared that Venezuela was free and did not contemplate further dealings
with Spain, nor was she willing ever to deal with Spain except as her
equal, in peace and in war, as is done reciprocally by all countries. He
concluded with the following words, which represent clearly his character
and that of his followers:

"The Republic of Venezuela declares that from April 19, 1810, she has
been fighting for her rights; that she has shed most of her sons'
blood, that she has sacrificed her youth, all her pleasures, and all
that is dear and sacred to men, in order to regain her sovereign rights
and in order to keep them in their integrity, as Divine Providence
granted them to her; the Venezuelan people have decided to bury
themselves in the ruins of their country if Spain, Europe and the world
insist on subjecting them to the Spanish yoke."

Immediately afterwards, Bolivar had to go to the West, where Paez had been
proclaimed supreme director of the republic by some dissenters. Bolivar
talked with Paez in private, induced him to return to obedience and
submission, and promoted him to major general in command of the independent
cavalry. The Liberator then returned to install the national congress and
to make preparations for the liberation of Nueva Granada.


_The Congress of Angostura. A Great Address. Campaigning in the Plains_


Congress did not meet until February 15, 1819, on account of the late
arrival of some representatives. There again Bolivar spoke, and on this
occasion he excelled himself in expressing his ideas regarding freedom.[1]

[Footnote 1: Bolivar has been accused of verbosity. Of all the accusations,
this is one of the most stupid. Bolivar's style is the style of his epoch.
The Spanish and French writers of that period wrote exactly in the same
form, and if his words do not appear as modern and sober as we might wish
them at this time, we must remember that times alter customs, and styles
also, and that if a document of Bolivar's were judged with no knowledge of
the work realized by the great man of the South, it might appear bombastic;
when his life is known, his words seem altogether natural. He was proud,
and his words show it, but his pride was a collective pride rather than an
individual one. He praised the work of the liberators, while he was the
Liberator _par excellence_, with this title conferred upon him officially.
When he mentioned his own person and his own glory, he did not exceed the
language of men of his time, and employed words even inferior to his own
merits. He was as emphatic as his race is, but he was never pedantic, and
as for the vanity of which Lorain Petre accuses him and his race, it never
existed. Lorain Petre's pamphlet is a work of passion masquerading as one
of wisdom and of impartiality.]

"Happy is the citizen," he said in his address, "who, under the shield
of the armies he commands, has convoked national sovereignty to
exercise its absolute will.... Only a forceful need, coupled with the
imperious will of the people, could force me into the terrible and
hazardous position of Dictator and Supreme Chief of the Republic.
I breathe freely now when I return to you this authority, which, with
much danger, difficulty and sorrow, I have succeeded in keeping in the
midst of the most horrible misfortunes which can befall a people."

Among the most remarkable parts of this document, the following will bear
close and careful study:

"The continuation of authority in one individual has frequently been
the undoing of democratic governments. Repeated elections are essential
in popular systems, because nothing is so dangerous as to permit a
citizen to remain long in power. The people get used to obeying
and he gets used to commanding it, from which spring usurpation and
tyranny." ... "We have been subjected by deception rather than by
force. We have been degraded by vice rather than by superstition.
Slavery is a child of darkness; an ignorant people becomes a blind
instrument of its own destruction. It takes license for freedom,
treachery for patriotism, vengeance for justice." ... "Liberty is a
rich food, but of difficult digestion. Our weak fellow citizens must
greatly strengthen their spirit before they are able to digest the
wholesome and nutritious bread of liberty." ... "The most perfect
system of government is the one which produces the greatest possible
happiness, the greatest degree of social safety, and the greatest
political stability."

The following study of the balance of powers in a country shows keen
political penetration:

"In republics, the executive must be the stronger, because all conspire
against him; while in monarchies, the legislative power should be the
stronger, because all conspire in favor of the monarch. The splendor of
the throne, of the crown, of the purple; the formidable support given
to it by the nobility; the immense wealth which generations accumulate
in the same dynasty; the fraternal protection which kings mutually
enjoy, are considerable advantages which militate in favor of royal
authority and make it almost boundless. These advantages show the need
of giving a Republican executive a greater degree of authority than
that possessed by a constitutional prince.

"A Republican executive is an individual isolated in the midst of
society, to restrain the impulses of the people toward license and the
propensities of administrators to arbitrariness. He is directly subject
to the legislative power, to the people; he is a single man, resisting
the combined attack of opinion, personal interests and the passions of

Elsewhere in his address, he remarks:

"The government of Venezuela has been, is, and must be Republican
its foundation must be the sovereignty of the people, the division of
powers, civil freedom, the proscription of slavery, the abolition
of monarchy and of privileges." ... "Unlimited freedom, absolute
democracy, are the rocks upon which Republican hopes have been
destroyed. Look at the old republics, the modern republics, and the
republics now in process of formation; almost all have aimed to
establish themselves as absolutely democratic, and almost all have
failed in their just desires." ... "Angels only, and not men, could
exist free, peaceful and happy, while all of them exercise sovereign
power." ... "Let the legislative power relinquish the attributes
belonging to the executive, but let it acquire, nevertheless, new
influence in the true balance of authority. Let the courts be
strengthened by the stability and independence of the judges
the establishment of juries, and of civil and criminal codes, not
prescribed by old times, nor by conquering kings, but by the voice of
nature, by the clamor of justice and by the genius of wisdom." ...
"Humankind cries against the thoughtless and blind legislators who have
thought that they might with impunity try chimerical institutions. All
the peoples of the world have attempted to gain freedom, some by deeds
of arms, others by laws passing alternately from anarchy to despotism,
from despotism to anarchy. Very few have contented themselves with
moderate ambitions constituting themselves in conformity with their
means, their spirit and their circumstances. Let us not aspire to
impossible things, lest, desiring to rise above the region of freedom,
we descend to the region of tyranny. From absolute liberty, peoples
invariably descend to absolute power, and the means between those two
extremes is social liberty." ... "In order to constitute a stable
government, a national spirit is required as a foundation, ha
for its object a uniform aspiration toward two capital principles;
moderation of popular will and limitation of public authority." ...
"Popular education must be the first care of the paternal love of
Congress. Morals and enlightenment are the two poles of a republic;
morals and enlightenment are our first needs."

Then Bolivar recommended the sanctioning of his decree granting freedom to
the slaves.

"I abandon to your sovereign decision the reform or abrogation of all
my statutes and decrees, but I implore for the confirmation of the
absolute freedom of slaves as I would implore for my own life and the
life of the Republic."

This document might well be quoted in its entirety. Very few in the history
of mankind can compare with it. "No one has ever spoken like this man,"
says an author.[1] The peoples of America have been marching steadily,
though at times haltingly, but always in a progressive way, towards the
ideals of Bolivar. The Congress of Angostura carried into effect many of
these sublime principles.

[Footnote 1: Larrazabal--Vida de Simon Bolivar. Vol. 2, p. 177.]

"An assembly of tried and illustrious men, the Congress of Angostura,
responded to the important requirements of the revolution, and when it
gave birth to Colombia, powerful and splendid, it realized no longer a
task Venezuelan in character, but rather an American mission."[1]

"The address of the Liberator in Angostura may be considered as a
masterpiece of reason and patriotism."[2]

At the beginning the Congress was formed of twenty-six deputies, which
number was increased to twenty-nine, representing the provinces of Caracas,
Barcelona, Cumana, Barinas, Guayana, Margarita and Casanare. This last
province belonged to Nueva Granada and the others forming the same
vice-royalty were expected to be represented as soon as freed from Spanish
domination. Its president was don Francisco Antonio Zea.

As was proper Bolivar immediately divested himself of the civil authority,
handing it to the President of the Congress and then resigned his command
of the army, offering to serve in any military position, in which he
pledged himself to give an example of subordination and of the "blind
obedience which should distinguish every soldier of the Republic." The
Congress, as was to be expected, confirmed Bolivar in his command and
sanctioned all the commissions he had given during the campaign. He was
also elected President of the Republic, with don Francisco Antonio Zea as
Vice-President to take charge of the government during the campaigns of
the Liberator. He organized the government, made the appointments for the
cabinet and sent commissioners to England to obtain arms, ammunition and a
loan of a million pounds sterling, undertakings in which the Republic did
not meet with success at that time.

[Footnote 1: Discurso de Bolivar en el Congreso de

[Footnote 2: Larrazabal--Vida de Simon Bolivar. Vol. 2, p. 177.]

The installation of the Congress made a great impression at home and
abroad, in spite of the attacks and ridicule with which the Spaniards tried
to discredit it. On that eventful day Bolivar saw his dream of a great
nation, Colombia, take shape, even though it were in danger of dying
shortly after its birth.

After asking all the members of the government and prominent persons of
Angostura to remain united in the cause of liberty, he went to join the
army in the western section.

During his stay in Angostura and afterwards he had been receiving foreign
contingents, especially from England. The Foreign Legion played from
that time on a very important role in the War of Independence and helped
substantially to obtain the triumph. By means of the British contingents,
the plainsmen of Paez, the regular armies of Bermudez and Marino, and the
genius of Bolivar, which united and directed all, the final victory was

After a rapid march, Bolivar joined Paez and for a while waged a constant
war in the plains, consisting of local actions by which he slowly, but
surely, destroyed the morale of the royalists and did all the harm he
could, the climate being a great factor in his favor. He was impetuous
by nature, but for a while he imitated Fabius by slowly gnawing at the
strength of his foe. He tired him with marches and surprises. He burned
the grass of the plains, cleared away the cattle, and drove Morillo to the
point of desperation. Meanwhile he lived the same life as the _llaneros_,
for he could do whatever the semi-barbarous plainsmen did. He could ride on
the bare back of a horse against the foe, or just for the exhilaration of
crossing the endless plains with the swiftness of lightning; he could groom
his horse and he did; he swam the rivers, waded marshes, slept on the
ground and associated freely with his men in the moonlight in front of the
camp fires.

At this point of the war, Paez again distinguished himself by an act of
supreme daring. With 150 of his horsemen, he crossed the river Arauca,
which separated the independent army from the royalists, and then feigned a
retreat along the river, which in very few places could be waded. Morillo,
considering him and his men easy prey, sent 1,200 men, including all his
cavalry, against the retreating horsemen. When they were far from the main
body of the army Paez rushed against the attacking party, without giving
them time to organize, and at the first inrush he destroyed the column.
The defeated royalists fled to their camp and Morillo decided to withdraw,
which he did during the night. This action, fought on April 3, 1819, and
known as the Battle of Las Queseras del Medio, covered Paez with glory
and Morillo with discredit. Bolivar conferred all the honors and praise
possible on the brave Paez and on his men.

At that time the plains began to be flooded. In the northern part of South
America, the season of rain, called winter, lasts from May until October.
The Valley of the Orinoco becomes in places an interior sea. The cattle go
up to the highlands and, where horses walk in the summer, small boats ply
in the winter, going from village to village and from home to home. The
villages are built on piles, and traveling on horseback is very difficult
during this season. On these plains, Bolivar and his men would travel,
riding or swimming as required. They would drive cattle with them and
kill them for food, pressing the remaining meat under the saddles, and
continuing the march. To all of this the plainsmen were accustomed; and to
this, Bolivar, born among the greatest comforts and reared amid all the
refinements of life, showed no apparent repugnance.


_Bolivar Pays His Debt to Nueva Granada. Boyaca, A Dream Comes True_


Paez was commissioned to get fresh horses with which to advance against
Barinas, when Bolivar got in communication with the province of Nueva
Granada--where Santander, a very able general, had organized an army, which
was fighting successfully against the royalists. Bolivar perhaps recalled
his promise made to Nueva Granada before leaving Angostura, or perhaps he
obeyed a long prepared plan. The fact is that he decided to do nothing less
than cross the flooded plains, go to the viceroyalty, free that country
from the Spanish domination and return to emancipate Venezuela. The man who
could not consider himself even the equal of Morillo again dreamed of the
impossible, and decided to convert it into fact.

He convoked his officers, communicated to them his plan of leaving some men
to distract Morillo's attention while he, himself, should go quickly to
Nueva Granada and give it freedom, and on May 25, 1819, he started to carry
out his project, one perhaps more difficult than those of Hannibal and

He left Paez to hold the attention of the royalists, and, besides that
depletion, had to suffer the loss of many of his plainsmen who refused to
accompany him across the Andes. But Colonel Rook, the head of the British
Legion, assured Bolivar that he would follow him "beyond Cape Horn, if
necessary." After spending a month painfully wading through the flooded
plains, he ascended the Andes and crossed them, in spite of inexpressible
suffering. The men had lost most of their clothing in the marshes below;
very few soldiers had even a pair of trousers in good condition. Leaving
the torrid climate of the plains, these men had to climb up the Andes
almost naked, on foot,--because they could not use their horses,--and
to suffer the freezing cold of the summits. Many died, but the faith of
Bolivar sustained the rest. The Liberator himself suffered all the fatigue
of the road. He was worn out, but he was always going forward.

Then he began his fight with the royalists in the land of Nueva Granada.
At this time he had no horses and his men had had to abandon most of the
provisions and ammunition. While in these straits, he learned that a
royalist army of 5,000 well disciplined men was approaching. Bolivar had
three days only in which to get ready, but at the end of that short period
he had arms and horses provided and his men prepared to fight. Then he
attacked the enemy, at first by the system of guerrillas and later in
formal battle, in which his genius succeeded in defeating the disciplined
strength of his foes. On entering the emancipated cities he was received
with the greatest enthusiasm and acclaimed as their liberator. New recruits
joined him everywhere.

These pitched battles would receive greater mention in history were it not
for the fact that another one took place almost immediately afterwards
which, by its magnitude and its results, made the others sink to a
secondary place. The royalists took position in a place called Boyaca. They
were commanded by Barreiro, and formed the vanguard of the army of the
viceroy Samano. Bolivar attacked them with an army only two-thirds
their size and was victorious. Among the independents was Jose Antonio
Anzoategui, a major general, who fought like a hero and succeeded in
breaking the stubborn resistance of the enemy. Death spared him on the
field of battle, but his glorious career ended a few days after the victory
of Boyaca, following a short illness. He was thirty years old. A member of
a very distinguished family, his culture was brilliant, his character was
pure, his loyalty and patriotism were unsurpassed. His loss was equivalent
to a great defeat. Barreiro, the commander of the royalists, fell prisoner
to Bolivar's troops. This battle occurred on August 7, 1819, and was not
only a complete victory for the forces of independence, but also meant
practically the end of the Spanish regime in Nueva Granada.

Regarding the crossing of the Andes and the victory of Boyaca, J.E. Rodo
(Uruguayan), one of the greatest thinkers of recent years, says:

"Other crossings of mountains may have been more adroit and
more exemplary strategy; none so audacious, so heroic and legendary.
Twenty-five hundred men climb the eastern slope of the range, and a
smaller number of specters descends the other side; these specters are
those of the men who were strong in body and soul, for the weak ones
remained in the snow, in the torrents, on the heights where the air is
not sufficient for human breasts. And with those specters of survivors,
the victory of Boyaca was obtained."[1]

One of the elements required for the upbuilding of Colombia--the
independence of Nueva Granada, was created by the victory of Boyaca. This
was by its effects the greatest triumph of Bolivar up to that moment.
The Liberator advanced to Bogota and was received there in a frenzy of
admiration and love.

The whole march and campaign lasted 75 days. This is the time a man would
require to traverse the distance covered; but it was completed by an army,
fighting against nature and man, and conquering both. Immediately after the
triumph of Boyaca, Bolivar sent troops to the different sections of Nueva
Granada, and felt the satisfaction of repaying this country for what she
had done when she placed in his hands the army with which he first achieved
the freedom of Venezuela. In Bogota, he obtained money and other[1] very
important resources with which to continue the war in Venezuela. As
elsewhere, he used his marvelous activity in the work of organization, and
in conducting his armies on the field of battle. A great assembly of the
most prominent men of Bogota conferred upon him the title of Liberator of
Nueva Granada, and bestowed the same title on all the men composing his
army, each one of whom also received a cross of honor called the Cross of
Boyaca. A Vice-President of Nueva Granada was appointed, General Francisco
de Paula Santander, the man who had organized the troops which Bolivar
joined when he invaded the viceroyalty. Bolivar considered all the
inhabitants as citizens of Colombia, without asking questions about their
previous conduct, and issued passports to those who cared to depart.

[Footnote 1: J.E. Rodo--Bolivar.]

After Boyaca, the campaigns of Bolivar were very swift, very successful and
on a very different footing from his past campaigns. His enemies henceforth
had to give up calling him the chieftain of rebels and bandits, and to
treat him as an equal. He, however, by word and act showed to the world
that he was not their equal, but very far their superior. After Boyaca
"victory is always true, and grows, and spreads as the waters of a flood,
and from peak to peak of the Andes, each mountain is a milestone of

[Footnote 1: J.E. Rodo--Bolivar.]

The royalists retreated from Bogota, and Samano fled to Cartagena. As for
Bolivar, he soon returned to Venezuela, leaving the business of Nueva
Granada in the hands of Santander, recommending him to respect the rights
of everyone, because, as he said, "Justice is the foundation of the

In Angostura, there had arisen dissensions, and opposition to the
vice-president, and even to Bolivar, himself. Some wanted him to be treated
as a deserter because he had undertaken the campaign of Nueva Granada
without the permission of Congress; some pronounced him defeated; some
declared that he was fleeing to safety. Marino, who had been called to
occupy his seat in Congress, seconded by Arismendi, was the center of ill
feeling against Bolivar. The vice-president was forced to resign, and
Arismendi was elected in his stead. His first action was to appoint Marino
head of the army of the East. The substitution of a military president for
a civilian was a vicious precedent which, unfortunately, has been followed
in many instances by the Spanish American countries. Arismendi proved,
nevertheless, a good vice-president, and retained the cabinet appointed
by Bolivar. Affairs were in this condition when news arrived of Bolivar's
victory in Boyaca.

The Liberator had learned of the disturbances in Angostura on his way
to Venezuela. He received also at this time the distressing news of
the execution, ordered by Santander, of Barreiro and the other Spanish
prisoners taken in Boyaca. Bolivar had proposed to the viceroy an
exchange of prisoners, but the viceroy had not even answered Bolivar's
communication. The Liberator had never agreed that the cause of freedom
should be stained by the blood of prisoners, except in those very
exceptional cases, already mentioned, when the War to Death decree was
in effect. On some occasions, individual chieftains had not hesitated to
commit crimes as heinous as those of the royalists. Though at times Bolivar
had to ignore such actions, lest he be left alone by his followers,
whenever he could prevent them, he did. He had recommended justice to
Santander, who, though otherwise a distinguished officer, an able general
and patriot, marred the fame he had acquired by this stupid act of cruelty,
an act not to be justified even by the fact that Barreiro had ordered,
without any form of law, the execution of many prisoners of war. Once, when
a priest was imploring that the lives of prisoners be spared, Barreiro
answered: "I am shooting them as I should shoot Bolivar were he ever to
fall into my hands." Santander published a proclamation in which he tried
to vindicate his conduct, but history has been just in its severity,
condemning him unreservedly.

Once back in Angostura, Bolivar feigned ignorance of what had happened,
and comported himself with much prudence and circumspection. Arismendi
presented his resignation with words of modesty, and promises which he
fulfilled thereafter. On December 14, Bolivar appeared before the Congress,
and in an address gave a short report of his victory in Nueva Granada,
voicing his constant aspiration for the union of Venezuela and Nueva
Granada to form the republic of Colombia. He said:

"Its aspiration (that of Nueva Granada) to join its provinces to those of
Venezuela is ... unanimous. The New Granadians are entirely convinced of
the enormous advantages which would result to both countries from the
creation of a new republic composed of these two nations. The union of
Nueva Granada and Venezuela is the only purpose I have had since my first
battles; it is the wish of the citizens of both countries, and it is the
guaranty of the freedom of South America.... It behooves your wisdom to
decree this great social act and to establish the principles of the pact on
which this great republic is to be founded. Proclaim it before the whole
world, and my services will be rewarded."

The vice-president endorsed the proposition of Bolivar with eloquent words,
incidentally praising the victorious general and his troops. Among the
persons who came to compliment him was an old foe named Mariano Montilla, a
colonel in the army. Bolivar knew well how to discover real qualifications
even in the hearts of his enemies, and he availed himself of this
opportunity to establish strong bonds of friendship between himself and his
former foe. He gave Montilla full powers to go to Cartagena, still in the
hands of the Spaniards, with instructions to take it. Montilla proved
worthy of Bolivar's trust. After fourteen months' siege, he captured
Cartagena, as we shall see later.

On the 17th of December, 1819, Congress decreed the creation of Colombia
by the union of Venezuela, Nueva Granada and Quito into a single
republic. Bolivar was then elected president. Don Antonio Zea was elected
vice-president for Venezuela, and Santander for Nueva Granada (also called
Cundinamarca). No vice-president was elected for Quito. The organization of
Quito was deferred until the army of freedom should enter that city.

The dream of Bolivar had come true again, and his prophecy made in Jamaica
in 1815 had become a reality.


_Humanizing War. Morillo's Withdrawal_


Meanwhile, in Spain, a great expedition was being prepared to come to
America, an expedition which was intended to surpass even the army of
Morillo. Fernando VII was determined to reestablish his absolute power, not
only in Spain but in the colonies. Morillo, in Venezuela, was asking for
reinforcements. In his pleas for more men he stated that he wanted them to
conquer Bolivar, "an indomitable soul, whom a single victory, the smallest,
is enough to make master of 500 leagues of territory." Fernando VII was
very willing to send this expedition, not merely to support his authority,
but also to get rid of many officers who were accused of liberal
principles. The army, gathered in Cadiz, was very soon undermined by
subversive ideas. An officer named Rafael Riego led the insurrection, and
on New Year's Day, 1820, instead of being on its way to America, the army
was in revolt in the name of constitutional freedom. The ultimate result
of this was that the expedition did not sail, and that Fernando VII had
frankly to accept a constitutional program. Although Morillo endeavored to
convey the idea that the events in Cadiz had little importance, the news
which reached Bolivar after some delay strengthened his hope, for it seemed
evident that Spanish soldiers were unwilling to come to America to fight
against the insurgents.

In January, 1820, Bolivar again crossed the plains, where Paez was in
command, and journeyed towards Bogota, with the object of publishing the
law establishing the Republic of Colombia. It was proclaimed there with
solemnity by Santander, who, on communicating the event to the President,
praised the latter with the following words: "Colombia is the only child of
the immortal Bolivar." In March Bolivar was in Bogota, where he gave the
final orders for the various military operations to be conducted in the
North and South.

In his absence, the Congress of Angostura decreed that he should use the
official title _Libertador_ before the word _Presidente_, and consider
this title as his own on all occasions of his life. Many other honors were
conferred upon him and his men. Grateful at heart, Bolivar devoted his
attention to the stupendous task of organizing the country.

Meanwhile, Morillo, waiting for the Spanish reinforcements which never
arrived, distributed his armies on the plains and in the southwest, in
order to be in a position to fight Bolivar whenever the opportunity
occurred. There were still nearly 15,000 men under Morillo, besides those
who were in Nueva Granada occupying Cartagena and other smaller places, and
those in possession of Quito. Bolivar organized another army, determined to
try his forces once more against those of his powerful foe.

As a result of the revolution in Spain, Morillo had to proclaim and swear
to the Spanish constitution in the provinces that he governed. This fact
wrought a marked change in the position of the contending armies. The
representative government established certain rights for provinces, and
at the same time created the hope among the Spaniards that the revolution
would end by conferring the privilege of representation on the American

The Spanish government initiated peace negotiations with the patriots, and
Morillo was made president of a commission which went to talk this matter
over with the heads of the Colombian revolution in July, 1820. A "Junta
Pacificadora," or assembly to establish peace, was set up by Morillo in
Caracas. Its first work was to send communications to the various generals
to suspend military operations for a month, while settlement was being
reached, and Bolivar was approached. On this occasion, Bolivar was
addressed as "His Excellency, the President of the Republic." He was no
longer the rebel, the insurgent or the bandit.

Bolivar was not to be deceived by any conciliatory attitude on the part of
the government. He decided that all his subordinate officers should furnish
every means for the conferences with the royalists, but always on the basis
of the independence of Colombia.

"It will never be humiliating," he wrote in a letter to one of his
officers, "to offer peace on the principles established in the declaration
of the Republic of Venezuela,[1] which ought to be the foundation of all
negotiations; first, because it is ordered by a law of the Republic,
and second, because it is necessary according to the nature and for the
salvation of Colombia."

[Footnote 1: That of November, 1818.]

Consequently, Congress answered the commissioners who came to deal with
Bolivar that the sovereign congress of Colombia would listen with pleasure
to all the propositions of the Spanish government, provided they were
founded on the acknowledgment of the sovereignty and independence of
Colombia, and that it would not admit any departure from this principle,
often proclaimed by the government and people of the republic.

Latorre, one of the most distinguished and gentlemanly of the Spanish
commanders, sent a personal note to Bolivar, in which he expressed the hope
that Bolivar would some day give him the pleasure of embracing him as his
brother. Bolivar answered accepting the armistice, but reiterated that he
would listen to no proposition not based on the independence of Colombia.

The proposal of the Spanish commanders was that the provinces should adopt
the political constitution of the Spanish monarchy; the King would permit
the present chieftains to retain command in the provinces they were then
occupying for an indefinite time, but subordinate either to the general of
the Spanish army or directly to the Spanish government. The representative
of Bolivar, for Bolivar did not attend the meeting through necessities of
the campaign, declined to accept the proposals, and added:

"The champions of justice and liberty, far from feeling flattered
by promises of unlimited command, feel insulted to see themselves
identified with the low element which prefers to oppress and be
powerful to the sublime glory of being the liberators of their

Meanwhile, the diplomatic representatives of Colombia were strengthening
the credit of the country in London. The public debt was recognized and
a system of payment was decided on. Colombia, whose freedom was not yet
accepted by the world, had at the time better credit than that of some of
the European countries. On the other hand, some diplomatic movements were
badly conducted in Europe. The royalist system was so deeply rooted in
the spirits of men that many did not hesitate to take steps to establish
independent kingdoms in America, with European princes at their heads. As a
matter of fact, at that time, the Spanish colonies, with the exception of
Colombia, showed very marked monarchical tendencies.

Mexico had given indication of her desire for a Spanish prince, and at
last fell into the hands of Iturbide. In Buenos Aires also, a monarch was
wanted, and it is well known that San Martin, the hero of Argentina and
Chile, was very much in favor of the monarchical system. Colombia alone
continued to support Bolivar in his idea concerning the establishment and
the conservation of the Republican system. It is true that Bolivar wanted a
president for life and an hereditary senate, but these ideas were rejected
by his fellow citizens. He defended them with great vigor, and, if we are
to judge by the history of anarchy succeeded by long periods of tyranny
through which many countries of Spanish America have passed, we may believe
that Bolivar's ideas were based on a knowledge of all the weaknesses
characteristic of the Spanish American people of his time. He wanted
to live up to the lofty words of Henry Clay, who, in the House of
Representatives of the United States, proposed that Colombia should be
recognized as a free country, "worthy for many reasons to stand side by
side with the most illustrious peoples of the world," a solemn utterance
which had little weight at that time in the United States, but which showed
for the first time in a semi-official way that the United States was taking
notice of the important movement of the South.

Bolivar, after an expedition to inspect the military operations of his
army, sent a communication to Morillo, notifying him that he was ready
to communicate with him. In a later letter, he asked Morillo to give
instructions to his commanders to enter into a treaty to regularize the
war, the horrors and crimes of which up to that time had steeped Colombia
in tears and blood. The first arrangement made by the commanders of both
sides was the agreement to an armistice to last during six months, covering
all Colombia, and designating the lines where the contending armies should
stay. It was also agreed that a treaty would be drafted providing for the
continuance of war in accordance with international law and the usages
of civilized countries. The initiative for these improvements was due to
Bolivar, who was also the author of the basis of the treaty proposed by
the Colombian delegates. Among the clauses of this agreement were some
providing for the safety, good-treatment and exchange of prisoners; the
abolition of capital punishment against deserters apprehended in the ranks
of the enemy; the inviolability of lives and property in the sections
tentatively occupied by the troops of the two armies; and the burial or
incineration of the bodies of the dead on the field of battle. No treaty
of the same nature entered into before that time had been so advanced in
character. As Bolivar had previously said, the Venezuelans had nothing
to lose; they had lost everything already; but the new treaty prevented
further misfortune or abuse.

Subsequent to the signing of the treaty, Morillo expressed a desire to meet
Bolivar personally, and Bolivar agreed. The two met in a town called Santa
Ana, accompanied by a very few officers. Latorre also attended the meeting,
but the presence of officers particularly distasteful to Bolivar was
prevented by Morillo. Each of these two men represented in its noblest
aspect the cause which he defended. It is strange that neither of them
seemed to have been prepared by circumstances of early life for the role he
was playing. Morillo was born of humble parentage, and from the lowest
rung of the ladder he climbed to the highest place in the army, always in
defense of the monarchy, until he received the titles of Count of Cartagena
and Marquis of La Puerta; Bolivar, born in wealth, destined to become a
millionaire and to be the recipient of every honor if he remained on the
side of the oppressors of his country, sacrificed everything, lost his
personal property to the last penny, and shared privations of every kind
with his soldiers. When he had money, he gave it away; when he had no
money, he gave away his food and clothing. His generosity was unlimited. On
one occasion, when he learned that the man who had helped him to secure a
passport after the surrender of Miranda was in prison and his estate about
to be confiscated, Bolivar immediately asked that his own private property
be taken instead of that of his friend.

But both Bolivar and Morillo were very much above the common chieftains,
the bloodthirsty Boves, the ignorant Paez. They were the best
representatives of what was truest and loftiest in Spanish power and in
independent energy.

The interview was cordial. The two men embraced one another, had a long
friendly conversation, and parted with a high mutual regard. They decided
that a monument should be erected to commemorate their meeting. Bolivar's
toast at a dinner tendered him on that occasion indicated clearly how he
desired the war to be fought in the future. Lifting his glass, he said:

"To the heroic firmness of all the fighters of both armies; to their
constancy, endurance and matchless bravery; to the worthy men who
support and defend freedom in the face of ghastly penalties; to those
who have gloriously died defending their country and their government;
to the wounded men of both armies who have shown their intrepidity,
their dignity and their character ... eternal hatred to those who
desire blood and who shed it unjustly."

Morillo answered in these words:

"May Heaven punish those who are not inspired with the same feelings of
peace and friendship that animate us."

From that day on the correspondence between the two men was very respectful
and cordial.

Morillo knew well that he could not conquer the independent army, and he
decided to return to Spain before he had lost his reputation in Venezuela.
He asked to be recalled, and was succeeded by D. Manuel de Latorre, of whom
we have already made mention. Transfer of the command was effected on the
fourteenth of December, 1820.


_The Second Battle of Carabobo. Ambitions and Rewards. Bolivar's
Disinterestedness. American Unity_


Sucre had been placed by Bolivar in command of the army of the South, with
instructions to go to Guayaquil,--a section which was not covered by the
armistice,--in order to negotiate its incorporation with Colombia. San
Martin desired to have the province of Quito form part of Peru, and there
is no ground for believing that he did so without sound and patriotic
reasons. Bolivar, on his part, insisted that Quito and Guayaquil should
belong to Colombia. Sucre had a very delicate mission, for he represented a
man totally opposite in ideas to San Martin, although inspired by the same
lofty motives and with the same noble purpose of freedom. Sucre went by sea
to Guayaquil and prevented its invasion by the royalists, who had Quito in
their possession.

Meanwhile, new commissioners came from Spain to undertake peace
negotiations. On that occasion Bolivar wrote a very courteous letter to
Latorre; and in a private communication he sent these friendly words to

"I feel happy, my dear General, at seeing you at the head of my
enemies, for nobody can do less harm and more good than you. You are
destined to heal the wounds of your new country. You came to fight
against it, and you are going to protect it. You have always shown
yourself as a noble foe; be also the most faithful friend."

He also sent commissioners to Spain with a very polite and cordial letter
to Ferdinand VII, so as to do his best to obtain the freedom of Colombia
and its acceptance by Spain, avoiding, if possible, further fighting.

Maracaibo, which, as we have seen, had always been a royalist city, also
decided to break with Spain; on this occasion, Latorre thought that Bolivar
had broken the armistice, a thing that Bolivar denied, for he had not
intervened in the movement, although he was ready to support the city in
its labors towards freedom. He was willing to submit the decision of the
question to arbitration, but Latorre did not acquiesce. Bolivar then
notified him that hostilities were resumed. He was convinced that the
Spanish Government never thought seriously of granting peace to the former
colonies through accepting their independence. He immediately concentrated
his forces, organized an expedition against Maracaibo, called the cavalry,
ordered invasion of the province of Caracas, obtained incorporation of Paez
and his plainsmen, and advanced towards the enemy. On opening the campaign,
he published a proclamation offering pardon to the Spaniards and promising
to send them to their country, and in all respects to obey the treaty
on regularization of warfare. He also ordered his soldiers to obey the
stipulations of that treaty.

"The Government," he said, "imposes on you the strict duty of being
more merciful than brave. Any one who may infringe on any of the
articles on the regulation of war will be punished with death. Even
when our foes would break them, we must fulfil them, so that Colombia's
glory may not be stained with blood."

It must not be forgotten that these enemies of Bolivar were very different
from the murderers commanded by Yanez or Boves.

The new Colombian Congress convened in the city of Rosario de Cucuta.
Bolivar, as usual on such occasions, submitted his resignation in order to
leave the Congress free to give the command to whomever it might select.
Among the members of the Congress there were some men openly hostile to
Bolivar, and in his communication he not only presented the usual reasons
for resigning, but also stated frankly that he was tired of hearing himself
called tyrant by his enemies. The Congress answered very cordially, asking
him to remain in his position and assuring him of the gratitude of the
Assembly for his valor and constancy.

Knowing that Latorre had advanced to Araure, the General moved with his
army towards the town of San Carlos, where he received some reinforcements.
As other independent commanders were harassing Latorre at different points,
the Spaniard had to send some of his troops to repel these attacks, and so
was forced to weaken his own army. Then he placed himself on the plain of
Carabobo, where Bolivar, in 1814, had defeated the royalists commanded by
Cagigal and Ceballos. There he was attacked by Bolivar on June 24, 1821. At
eleven o'clock in the morning the battle began, and it developed with the
swiftness of lightning. In an hour the royalist army was destroyed, not
without great losses to the independents. In one hour not only the royalist
army was defeated, but the Spanish domination in Venezuela had come to an
end. In this battle, a very decisive role was played by the British legion,
and by the brave _llaneros_ commanded by Paez.

As the battle of Boyaca practically secured the independence of Nueva
Granada, the battle of Carabobo secured the independence of Venezuela.
Boyaca and Carabobo were up to that moment the greatest titles of glory for
Bolivar, but his work was not completed, and America had still more and
brighter glory in store for him. He, in his vigorous style, described the
battle in a communication to the Congress, in which he said, among other

"Yesterday the political birth of the Republic of Colombia was
confirmed by a splendid victory."

Then he praised Paez, whom he immediately promoted to the rank of full
General of the Army, and paid last homage to General Cedeno, who died in

"none braver than he, none more obedient to the Government ... He died
in the middle of the battle, in the heroic manner in which the life of
the brave of Colombia deserves to end....

"The Republic suffers an equal pain in the death of the most daring
Colonel Plaza, who, filled with unparalleled enthusiasm, threw himself
against an enemy battalion to conquer it. Colonel Plaza deserves the
tears of Colombia ... The Spanish army had over 6,000 picked men. This
army does not exist any more; 400 of the enemy's men entered Puerto
Cabello today."

The struggle for Venezuelan independence opened on April 19, 1810, in
Caracas, and closed on June 24, 1821, at Carabobo.

The Congress decreed the highest honors to the conquerors of Carabobo,
ordered a day of public rejoicing throughout the whole country, and set the
following day for the funerals of all those who had fallen on the field of

After the battle of Carabobo, Venezuela was divided into three military
districts, which were placed under the command respectively of Marino, Paez
and Bermudez, who had also been promoted to the rank of general. In this
way, Bolivar tried to satisfy the ambitions of his officers, who, in more
than one respect, considered their conquests as private property.

This was especially true of Paez. The Liberator had to be very careful in
dealing with them, constantly impelled by the fear that through peace their
restlessness would become a danger to the stability of the country. Bolivar
summarized the situation when he exclaimed:

"I am more afraid of peace than of war!"

His attention was then turned to the campaign of the South. He had been
informed that San Martin was inclined to deal with the royalists, and
he wanted to hasten there to avoid any such compromise. At this time he
learned that the independence of Mexico was a fact, and he became impatient
to finish the emancipation of Colombia by means of the freedom of the
Isthmus of Panama, which he used to call the "carrier of the universe."

Upon the organization of Colombia, as a result of the union of Nueva
Granada and Venezuela, Bolivar was made president, and in that capacity he
signed the constitution of 1821. In his communication to the Congress of
Rosario de Cucuta, he reiterated his desire to resign the command. On this
occasion, his declaration could not be more emphatic.

"A man like me is a dangerous citizen in a popular government. He is an
immediate threat to the national sovereignty. I want to be a cit
in order to secure my own freedom and the freedom of everybody else. I
prefer the title of citizen to that of Liberator, because the latter
comes from war and the former comes from the law. Change, I beg you,
all my titles for that of _good citizen_."

Of course, no one would think of accepting his resignation at a moment when
his genius was most needed for the organization of the country.

We have mentioned very often the resignation of the Liberator from his
command, and the invariable nonacceptance of it. Some enemies of Bolivar
have declared that he never resigned in earnest, and have gone so far as to
pronounce him an ambitious man who wanted all glory and power in Colombia
and South America. The declarations made by Bolivar were made before the
whole world. He had gained sufficient glory to be termed a great man,
even though he left the army. If his resignation had been accepted, it is
absolutely certain that he would have abandoned the power in order to
keep untainted his reputation as a warrior, as an organizer, and as a
self-sacrificing patriot. At that time he was praised by the North American
press, as well as by men in every part of the world. The press of the
United States opposed his resignation, considering it premature. General
Foy said:

"Bolivar, born a subject, freeing a world, and dying as a citizen,
shall be for America a redeeming divinity, and in history the noblest
example of greatness to which a man can arrive."

The Archbishop of Malines, Monsignor de Pradt, said:

"The morality of the world, weakened with so many examples of violence,
baseness, ambition, covetousness and hypocrisy, was in need of a
stimulus like Bolivar, whose moderation and whose unheard-of abnegation
in the full possession of power have rendered ambition hate
The example of this great, virtuous man may serve as a general
purification, strong enough to disinfect society."

The author of this monograph has been very keen to find all papers and
documents in which appears disparaging criticism of the life of Bolivar. He
declares that he has never found one which is not invalidated by reasons of
personal interest, political antagonism or prejudice. Bolivar's life was
always consistent with his words. He was a man of power. Whenever occasion
demanded it, he became a real dictator. At times necessity made him rather
weak in dealing with the stormy elements of his own party, and only in
exceptional circumstances, as in the sad case of General Piar did he rise
to the plane of severity in letting justice take its course. A careful
study of the life of Bolivar has produced a great change in the mind of the
author of this work. He has come to realize that he was studying not merely
the life and deeds of a great American, or even of a great man among all
men, but the history of one of those exceptional beings selected by God to
perform the highest missions and to teach great lessons. The student, upon
leaving the subject, feels the same reverence experienced upon leaving
a sacred place, where the spirit has been under the influence of the
supernatural. Bolivar's ambition was the legitimate desire for glory, but
he never wanted that power which consists in the oppression of fellowmen
and the acquisition of wealth.

We have seen that General Sucre had gone by sea to Guayaquil, while Bolivar
decided to go by land to Quito. He considered this campaign as decisive,
but while he was making his preparations, he did not neglect the diplomatic
relations of his country, the organization of finance nor the domestic
service. He continued to dream of the unity of America. He never succeeded
in attaining it, but that dream was the star to which he had hitched his
chariot. He had been in communication with the statesmen of Argentina and
Chile, and, as we have seen, in his proclamation sent to the inhabitants
of Nueva Granada he expressed a desire that the motto of America should
be "Unity in South America." He sent one plenipotentiary to Mexico, and
another to Peru, Chile and Argentina. In his instructions to the latter he
said the following words, which sound today, a century later, as though
they had been uttered yesterday:

"I repeat that of all I have expressed, there is nothing of so much
importance at this moment as the formation of a league truly American.
But this confederation must not be formed simply on the principles of
an ordinary alliance for attack and for defense; it must be closer than
the one lately formed in Europe against the freedom of the people.

"It is necessary that our society be a society of sister nations,
divided for the time being in the exercise of their sovereignty, on
account of the course of human events, but united, strong and powerful,
in order to support each other against aggressions of foreign powers.

"It is indispensable that you should incessantly urge the necessary
to establish immediately the foundations of an amphictyonic body or
assembly of plenipotentiaries to promote the common interests of the
American states, to settle the differences which may arise in the
future between peoples which have the same habits and the same customs,
and which, through the lack of such a sacred institution, may perhaps
kindle deplorable wars, such as those which have destroyed other
regions less fortunate."

In the projected treaty carried by the same representative, the following

"Both contracting parties guarantee to each other the integrity of
their respective territories, as constituted before the present war,
keeping the boundaries possessed at that time by each captaincy general
or viceroyalty of those who now have resumed the exercise of their
sovereignty, unless in a legal way two or more of them have agreed to
form a single body or nation, as has happened with the old captaincy
general of Venezuela and the kingdom of Nueva Granada, which now form
the Republic of Colombia."

Similar instructions were given to the representative sent to Mexico.

The treaty arranged with Peru was similar to another entered into
afterwards with Chile. In both documents it was stipulated: that an
assembly should be organized with representatives of the different
countries; that all the governments of America, or of that part of America
which had belonged to Spain, should be invited to enter into that union,
league, or perpetual confederation; that the assembly of plenipotentiaries
should be entrusted with the work of laying the foundation for, and of
establishing, the closer relations which should exist among all of those
states; and that this assembly should "serve them as a council in great
conflicts, as a point of contact in the common dangers, as faithful
interpreter of their public treaties when difficulties occur, and as an
arbitral judge and conciliator in their disputes and differences." In this
way, two great principles were sanctioned by Bolivar: the principle of
_uti-possidetis_ and the principle of arbitration, which was proclaimed in
America, for the first time, by Bolivar as president of Colombia.

Before leaving for the campaign of the South, the Libertador Presidente
received the good news of Cartagena's fall into the hands of Montilla after
fourteen months of siege, and of the insurrection of Panama, which became
independent and formed the eighth department of Colombia.

The importance of the independence of Panama cannot be exaggerated. Bolivar
wisely deemed it of greatest moment, and what has occurred during the
twentieth century has proved that Bolivar was absolutely right in his


_Bombona and Pichincha. The Birth of Ecuador. Bolivar and San Martin Face
to Face_


In January, 1822, Bolivar was in Cali, assembling his army to invade Quito
by land.

This campaign proved to be the most difficult he had undertaken with
respect to natural obstacles. Between Quito and his army, the Andes form a
nucleus of mountains called the Nudo de Pasto. All the difficulties with
which he had had to contend in the campaigns of Venezuela and Nueva
Granada,--such as the flooded plains, the deep ravines between Venezuela
and the Colombian valleys, the narrow and rugged passages, the wild
beasts,--sink into nothingness as compared with the almost unconquerable
obstacles which he was to face on his way to the South. In no other part
of the continent do the Andes present such an appalling combination of
ravines, torrents, precipitous paths and gigantic peaks. Furthermore,
nowhere on the continent was the population so hostile to freedom as were
the _pastusos_ (inhabitants of the _Pastos_). Men, women and children
cordially hated the cause of the Republic, and stopped at no crime to
destroy the armies of Bolivar. Despite all this opposition, Bolivar made
ready to throw the glories he had earned in Boyaca and Carabobo into the
balance, risking everything to obtain the freedom of the peoples of the
south, and the union of Quito and Colombia. This campaign presented
difficulties greater than Napoleon himself ever found in his path. The
Alps do not compare with these American mountains,--which rank with the

On the 8th of March, Bolivar began his advance to the South, being forced
to leave a thousand men in the hospitals on the way. Scarcely two thousand
men formed the army when it approached the formidable Nudo de Pasto. Sucre,
who had been stationed in Guayaquil, moved so as to distract the attention
of the Spaniards, thus helping Bolivar, and this was the only favorable

Two thousand men were awaiting Bolivar in the city of Pasto, men who knew
the country and who had the support of the inhabitants in their war against
the independents. The commander of Pasto was a Spanish colonel named D.
Basilio Garcia.

The two armies met in a place called Bombona, where all the advantages were
on the side of the royalists. Bolivar found himself about to attack an army
made almost invulnerable by nature; forests, roads, ravines--all protected
it. In such a position, Bolivar merely said these words: "We must conquer
and we will conquer!"

On the 7th of April the battle of Bombona occurred. It lasted the entire
afternoon and part of the night. The independent army rose to the occasion,
and accomplished what it had never before realized. The light of the moon
witnessed the retreat of the royalist army, defeated and destroyed, seeking
shelter in the city of Pasto; and the name of Bombona was written in
history beside those of Boyaca and Carabobo as among the most momentous,
the most significant battles fought for the cause of independence.[1]

[Footnote 1: Before the battle, General Pedro Leon Torres misunderstood an
order from Bolivar. The latter instructed him to surrender his command to a
colonel. Torres took a rifle and answered:

"Libertador, if I am not good enough to serve my country as a general,
I shall serve her as a grenadier."

Bolivar gave him back his command; Torres ordered the advance of his men
and threw himself against the enemy, falling fatally wounded.]

The city of Pasto was unanimous against the Liberator, who now asked Garcia
to surrender. Garcia at first refused, but finally accepted capitulation.
He was a brave man and a creditable representative of Spanish heroism.

Bolivar entered Pasto. He was in such grave danger from the hostility of
the inhabitants that he had to be escorted by Spanish soldiers, who, in
this way, displayed their loyalty to their word and their high sense of

This occurred on the 8th of June, 1822. The battle of Bombona had taken
place two months before, and in the interval another great event occurred
in favor of the independent army. General Sucre, who had come to help
Bolivar in the movement, had taken several cities as he advanced towards
Quito. On the 24th of May he fought a decisive battle on the volcanic
mountain of Pichincha, by which the independence of Quito was secured. The
battle of Pichincha made Sucre the greatest general in the Republican
army, after Bolivar. He captured 1,200 prisoners, several pieces of field
artillery, guns and implements of war, and even made prisoner the Spanish
commander, Aymerich. On the 25th of May, Sucre entered the city of Quito,
two hundred and eighty years after the Spaniards arrived in that city for
the first time.

With Sucre in Quito and Bolivar in Pasto, many bodies of royalist troops

In the United States, the question of recognizing the independence of the
South American countries finally came before Congress. On March 8, 1822,
with James Monroe as President and John Quincy Adams as Secretary of State,
the ideas expressed by Henry Clay in 1820 were carried to full fruition.
The press had been working in favor of independence, and the message of
Monroe in favor of recognition was an interpretation of public opinion
at that time. In the report presented to Congress was the following

"To deny to the peoples of Spanish America their right to independence
would be in fact to renounce our own independence."

The independence of the South American countries was recognized by a
congressional vote of 159 out of 160. It is better to forget the name of
the man who opposed it. Spain fought against this measure but still it
held. Colombia, Mexico and Buenos Aires entered into the concert of free

Bolivar proceeded to organize the province of Los Pastos, and, with the
help of the Bishop of Popayan,--a former foe to the cause of independence,
who had wanted to return to Spain when the insurgents took possession
of the city, but who was persuaded to remain by the noble words of
Bolivar--finally obtained the consolidation of the republic in that
section. A few days later Bolivar left Los Pastos for Quito, where he was
received in triumph. The authorities of the old kingdom of Quito declared
the city's desire to be reunited with the Republic of Colombia,--to become
a part of the latter. Upon receiving the minutes of the assembly in which
this decision was taken, Bolivar decided that this resolution should be
placed before the proper representatives of the people, so that it might be
given greater emphasis by their approval.

In the organization of the country, Bolivar formed the department of
Ecuador of three old provinces. Sucre, promoted to the rank of major
general, was appointed governor of this department. Then Bolivar addressed
a letter to San Martin, at that time Protector of Peru, telling him that
the war in Colombia had come to an end and that his men were ready to go
wherever their brothers would call them, "especially to the country of our
neighbors to the South."

There was a serious problem to be solved in the South, and it had to be
worked out in Guayaquil. Two great men were going to come face to face. It
is necessary to study, even briefly, the personality of the other noted man
of the South, General San Martin.

D. Jose de San Martin was born on the 25th of February, 1778, of Spanish
parents, in the little village of Yapeyu, in the missions established among
the Indians in the northeast part of what is now the Argentine Republic.
His father was lieutenant governor of the department. Jose was educated in
Spain among youths of noble birth. At eleven years of age he entered the
army. He fought in Africa, against the French, and in Portugal. In the
campaign in Portugal he was a brother-in-arms of don Mariano Montilla, the
hero of Cartagena. He rose to the position of lieutenant colonel. In 1811
he met Miranda in London, and then decided to come to Buenos Aires.
He arrived there in 1812, and placed himself at the disposal of the
revolutionary government, which gave him the grade of lieutenant colonel
of cavalry. He immediately showed his talent as an organizer of men; he
instructed his officers and disciplined his soldiers.

At the beginning of the Argentine revolution, the idea of independence was
vague, and it was San Martin who first suggested that the revolutionists
should call themselves "independents," so as to have a cause, a flag and
principles by which they might be known. It is necessary to remember that
the revolution in this section of America was always of a monarchical
tendency, and San Martin was always an ardent supporter of monarchical
ideas. The only battle in which he took part in Argentina was one in which
he, with 120 men, defeated 250 foes. The independence of the viceroyalty of
the River Plata caused very little bloodshed, except in the northern part,
which is now the republic of Bolivia. San Martin was sent to fight the
Spaniards in this section, but he well knew the futility of attacking
by land, because the greatest stronghold of the Spaniards on the entire
continent--the viceroyalty of Peru--was on the other side. He then feigned
illness, and was sent as governor to the province of Cuyo, at the foot of
the Andes, where he worked constantly and efficiently to organize a large
army. He succeeded, not with the brilliancy of Bolivar's genius, but
through the constancy of his own methodical soul.

San Martin was reserved. It was very difficult to know his thoughts and his
feelings. He was successful in battle as well as in his deception of the
enemy. In many respects he was the opposite of Bolivar.

In 1817 San Martin had 4,000 soldiers in Mendoza ready to invade Chile,
where the insurgent armies had been defeated in Rancagua by a Spanish army
sent from Peru. The remnants of the Chilean patriots dispersed, and some of
them crossed the Andes and presented themselves to San Martin in the city
of Mendoza. He received some and rejected others. Among the former was D.
Bernardo O'Higgins, upon whose loyalty San Martin was certain he could

San Martin crossed the Andes, and defeated the Spaniards at Chacabuco.
Later, he fought the decisive battle of Maipo, passing then to Santiago,
where he was proclaimed director of the state, from which position he
immediately resigned, using all his influence to have O'Higgins appointed
in his stead, which was done. O'Higgins was an honest man and an excellent
administrator. He immediately appointed San Martin general-in-chief of the
army, and together they planned the invasion of Peru by sea.

With the help of Admiral Cochrane, San Martin reached the shores of Peru,
where he landed. After some delay, due to the desire to enlist public
opinion in the cause of independence, he took the city of Lima on July 8,
1821, and was appointed Protector of Peru. He wished to unite Guayaquil and
Peru, in which plan he was opposed by Bolivar.

Guayaquil had declared itself independent of Spain in October, 1820. We
have seen that Sucre was sent there by Bolivar because that section had
not been included in the armistice agreed to with Morillo in Santa Ana. In
Guayaquil there were three parties, one on the side of Peru, one on the
side of Colombia, and a third which desired the independence of that
section. There were several movements in favor of and against these
conflicting views, when Bolivar sent messages to Sucre, O'Higgins, San
Martin, and other prominent men, in an endeavor to form a combination to
bring about an early and successful end to the war for independence. In all
the difficulties of Guayaquil, Sucre displayed exceptional prudence and
tact, but when he was obliged to leave the city in order to draw to himself
the attention of the Spaniards and thus facilitate the movement of Bolivar
against Pasto, the intrigues increased, and Bolivar had to intervene,
sending a message to the Junta of Guayaquil, asking them to recognize the
union of Guayaquil and Colombia. San Martin was on the point of declaring
war on Colombia, a fatal step which was prevented by the pressure of other
more urgent matters, and perhaps because the victories of Bombona and
Pichincha were too recent to encourage any disregard of the conquerors.

As soon as Bolivar arrived in Quito, he decided to go to Guayaquil to take
the situation in hand. He arrived on July 11, and was received in triumph,
his presence producing a decided effect in favor of the union with
Colombia. He published a proclamation inviting expressions of popular
opinion as to union, and was waiting for the day on which the
representatives of the province were to meet, when General San Martin
appeared in the city, surprising everybody, for, although he had sent
Bolivar a letter notifying him of his intended visit, Bolivar had not
received it. He was most cordially received by the Liberator, who, in a
previous communication, had declared his friendship for the Protector of
Peru. San Martin landed on the 26th of July, and that night had a long
personal conference with Bolivar, concerning which opinions varied. There
were no witnesses of that interview. It is certain that the men discussed
the union of Guayaquil, and the conflicting ideas of both leaders. Again
the intellectual superiority of Bolivar was evident. One thing, however, is
known: forty hours after landing in Guayaquil, the Protector left the city
and went to Peru, where he resigned his position and then sailed for Chile,
whence he went to the Argentine Republic. Later, he proceeded to Europe,
where he died in the middle of the century, a great man, the victim of the
ingratitude of his fellow citizens, always modest and reserved, and, in
many respects, an unsolved mystery. He harbored no resentment towards
Bolivar. When he arrived in Callao after the interview, the papers
published the following words over his name:

"The 26th of last July, when I had the satisfaction of embracing
the Hero of the South, was one of the happiest days of my life. The
Liberator of Colombia is not only helping this state with three of his
brave battalions, united to the valiant division of Peru under the
command of General Santa Cruz, to put an end to the war in America, but
he is also sending a considerable number of arms for the same purpose.
Let us all pay the homage of our eternal gratitude to the immortal


_Junin, a Battle of Centaurs. The Continent's Freedom Sealed in Ayacucho_


After the victories of Bombona and Pichincha Bolivar again evidenced
his disinterestedness and his generosity in praising his officers. He
reiterated his desire to resign his power. He expressed in a letter the
need he felt for rest, and a belief that a period of repose might restore
his former energy, which he felt slipping away from him.

Writing to a friend about Iturbide, he said:

"You must be aware that Iturbide made himself emperor through the grace
of Pio, first sergeant.[1] ... I am very much afraid that the four
boards covered with crimson, and which are termed a throne, cause the
shedding of more blood and tears and give more cares than rest.... Some
believe that it is very easy to put upon one's head a crown and have
all adore it; But I believe that the period of monarchy is pass
and that thrones will not be up-to-date in public opinion until the
corruption of men chokes love of freedom."

[Footnote 1: Augustin de Iturbide was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico as the
result of a mutiny led in Mexico City by a sergeant called Pio Marcha.]

Regarding the battle of Pichincha, he said: "Sucre is the Liberator of

No better praise could be given his worthy lieutenant.

Once in Quito, he received the alarming news from Peru, which province had
been left by San Martin, that several serious defeats had been suffered by
the independents. He immediately made ready to free the viceroyalty from
Spain, realizing that while Peru remained under Spain the independence
of Colombia would be in danger. The viceroy of Peru had 23,000 European
soldiers and all the resources necessary to carry on war.

Peru was the last South American country to proclaim its independence.
Although there had been some movements of insurrection in 1809 in Alto Peru
(now Bolivia), they were soon quelled and the country once more placed
under the dominion of Spain. As a result, Peru was in position to send
reinforcements to the royalists in Chile and was a constant menace to
Colombia. The patriots of Chile, after obtaining their freedom, organized
San Martin's expedition to invade Peru. When San Martin entered Lima early
in July, 1821, the viceroy (Pezuela) was deposed by an assembly, and
Laserna was appointed to take his place. Once in Lima, San Martin entered
upon a period of inactivity which resulted in heavy losses to the
independents. He was even ready to communicate with the Spaniards in order

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