B spanish Officials Creoles All Amerindians and variations of mestizos ackground

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Latin American Independence Movements (with Chapter 23, Earth…)

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    All Amerindians and variations of mestizos

    Before 1810, a division formed in Spanish American society. In the colonies were indigenous people, mestizos (mixed native and Spanish), creoles (colonial born whites), wealthy elite (usually creoles or Spanish settlers), and Spanish officials placed there to govern in the absence of the king who was thousands of miles across the Atlantic. The officials and the wealthy elite tended to side with the king of Spain (Ferdinand VII) and encouraged obedience even when he was captured by Napoleon from 1808-1814. Napoleon’s invasion and the absence of the real king caused a crisis of legitimacy in the colonies. Many felt loyal to the king, and although a Junta Central was created to administrate the colonies until Ferdinand VII could return, popular uprisings created local governments called juntas to rule until the king returned to the throne. With no king in Spain, weren’t they sovereign now?

Mexico… was Spain’s most populous and wealthiest colony by 1810, most because of silver.

  • In 1810 wealthy farmers forced Amerindians from their lands, which increased the problem of an urban poor class.

  • A priest named Hidalgo called a crowd to rebel—they began attacking the farms of the wealthy at random. Strangely, those wealthy farmers were sympathetic to Hidalgo at first, but eventually they turned on him and Spanish officials had him killed.

  • Another priest, Morelos, continued with a better army, but was also executed.

  • Military revolts in Spain then triggered a conservative uprising of loyalists (people who had previously been loyal to Spain)

  • Mexico chose to select an emperor as their first ruler in 1821 when independence from Spain was officially declared. They asked former king Ferdinand of Spain to be their emperor, but he declined the offer and no one else wanted the job. Augustin Iburtide became emperor.

Brazil… a colony of Portugal

  • The royal family (King John) of Portugal visited in 1808 when Napoleon took over in their country. Their arrival secured the loyalty of most colonists.

  • When Napoleon was defeated in 1814 the Portuguese called for the return of their king but he resisted return until a liberal military uprising in Spain in 1820 (in which Spain and Portugal both adopted constitutions). He returned to Portugal at this time, leaving his son Pedro in Brazil to rule for him.

  • In 1822 Pedro declared Brazil independent and became emperor (again, eventually overthrown by republicans/constitution in 1889).

Gran Colombia… Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador

  • In 1811 a revolutionary junta declared independence from Spain, and placed the revolution in the hands of Simon Bolivar

  • Military advantage shifted between patriots and loyalists, but eventually the patriots won.

  • The 1820 liberal military revolt in Spain forced the king to accept a constitution limiting his power.


  • After freeing Gran Colombia (and uniting the three regions into one) Bolivar’s army occupied Peru/Bolivia to fight the Spanish forces there

  • He won in 1824 and tried to unify the two areas, but it did not work.

Rio de la Plata… Argentina and Chile…

  • Buenos Aires was the second important center of revolutionary activity in Spanish America

  • In 1806 a British invasion attempted to gain a foothold in Buenos Aires but the Argentineans defeated them—if they beat the British, who had always beaten the Spanish, could they too defeat the Spanish?

  • The viceroy (Spanish official) was overthrown in 1810 and the junta claimed (faked) loyalty to the imprisoned king to fool the loyalists into support

  • Declared independence in 1816 (as soon as the king returned in Spain, the patriots dropped the pretence that they supported him)

  • Jose de San Martin’s military exploits temporarily gained freedom from Spanish forces, but eventually Simon Bolivar (after finishing off Peru) finished the job in 1824.

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