« PreviousContinue »
after dark a few days later. The independence of Peru was proclaimed July 28 with imposing ceremonies in the great square of Lima. San Martin was proclaimed Protector of Peru. He proceeded to organize a civil government, and established the celebrated Order of the Sun, distinctively aristocratic in character.
San Martin had played a great part thus far, but he had reached the zenith of his influence and power. Dissensions soon arose. The task he had undertaken was difficult in the extreme. It was much easier to acquire power than to use it. At the time of the evacuation of Lima by the Spaniards, he said to Captain Hall:
For the last ten years I have been unremittingly employed against the Spaniards; or rather in favor of this country, for I am not against any one who is not hostile to the cause of independence. All I wish is that this country should be managed by itself, and by itself alone. As to the manner in which it is to be governed, that belongs not at all to me. I propose simply to give the people the means of declaring themselves independent, and of establishing a suitable form. of government; after which I shall consider I have done enough and leave them."
When the time came he kept his word.
While San Martin was leading the army of liberation from the Argentine Republic to Chile, and from Chile to Peru, Simon Bolivar, the liberator of the north, was pursuing his chequered career in Venezuela and Colombia, unfurling the standard of revolution wherever he could get a foothold. He was a man, in every respect, the opposite of San Martin, fiery, im
" Hall's "Journal," Vol. I, p. 194.
petuous, wholly given over to personal ambition, neither a statesman nor a soldier, but one of the greatest revolutionary leaders of any age or country. His ignorance of military affairs led him into undertakings from which an experienced soldier would have held back, but his indomitable pluck carried him safely through all calamities, and his wonderful enthusiasm fired his followers even in the midst of disaster.
This remarkable man, whose reputation in the new world stands second to that of Washington alone, was, like Miranda, a native of Caracas. Sprung from a family of wealth and influence he had, like most young South Americans of his class, received his education abroad, and had for several years led a dissipated life in Paris. At first he held himself aloof from the revolutionary leaders, but after the accomplishment of the revolution of Caracas, April 19, 1810, he was persuaded to join the Patriot cause, and was sent to London to solicit assistance from Great Britain.s
The junta of Caracas, like those subsequently formed in the south, professed to act in the name of Ferdinand VII, and fearing the influence of Miranda, then in London, whose advocacy of absolute independence had been open and avowed, they instructed Bolivar and their other agents not to allow him to come to Venezuela. Miranda came in spite of them, however, under an assumed name, and was everywhere received with enthusiasm. Under his influence a congress was elected which, on July 5, 1811, declared Venezuela a republic, free and independent of all foreign dominion. Miranda was appointed Director. This was the first South American declaration of inde"Holstein, "Life of Bolivar." Boston, 1829.
pendence. The formal independence of the Argentine Republic was not declared until July 9, 1816, although the country had been self-governing for several years.
The Patriot cause was ruined, however, by the earthquake of March 25, 1812, which almost destroyed the city of Caracas and several towns of importance. Twenty thousand people are supposed to have perished. As the disaster occurred on Holy Thursday, the clergy were not slow to turn it to political account and to persuade the people that it was a direct chastisement of Heaven upon them for their rebellion against Spain. The cause of the Patriots steadily lost ground until the fall of Porto Cabello, through the inefficiency of Bolivar, caused its complete collapse. Miranda was forced to sign with Monteverde the treaty of Vittoria, July 26, 1812, on the basis of complete submission and a general amnesty. It is hardly necessary to add that the Spanish general did not abide by the terms of the capitulation. Miranda himself was detained by Bolivar, as he was on the point of embarking for England, accused of having received bribes from the Spaniards and of being unwilling to share the fate of his followers, and treacherously handed over to the Spaniards. He was sent to Spain. and after languishing for three years in a dungeon at Cadiz, died July 14, 1816. His fate was a sad blot upon the reputation of Bolivar.
The revolution in New Granada, which had been inaugurated July 20, 1810, was still holding out and thither Bolivar proceeded to offer his services to the Patriots of that province. As soon as he had firmly established himself in influence and power, he persuaded the government that their only safety lay in
the reconquest of Venezuela. He was provided with troops, and in May, 1813 crossed the frontier and took several important cities. He now assumed a new attitude and became a self-appointed dictator. He proclaimed a war of extermination against Spaniards and adopted a new system of dates: "3d year of Independence and Ist of the War to the Death." He entered Caracas in triumph August 6, 1813. He proclaimed himself dictator with the title of Liberator. Meanwhile Marino, another Patriot leader, had landed in the eastern part of Venezuela near Cumana and declared himself dictator. There were thus two dictators and no cordiality between them. Before they could come to an agreement the enemy had recovered their position. In December, 1814, the last Patriot force was defeated.
Bolivar and Marino retired once more to New Granada. Bolivar was made captain-general of the forces of New Granada, his title of Liberator was recognized, and another, that of Illustrious Pacificator, bestowed upon him. A second time he undertook the conquest of Venezuela from the west. Dissensions soon arose between Bolivar and the other leaders. He was refused reinforcements and foolishly marched against the Patriot garrison of Cartagena. He was now forced to give up his command, and embarked for Jamaica, May, 1815.
Meanwhile Ferdinand had been restored to the throne of Spain, and an army of 10,000 men, commanded by Marshal Morillo, the ablest Spanish general of the time, had been sent to reduce the provinces on the Main. This expedition reached Cumana in April, 1815, and before the end of the year all the
colonies, with the exception of the provinces of the River Plate, were reduced to submission.
Far from giving up hope, however, Bolivar proceeded to Haiti, and from that island, in May, 1816, made a descent upon the eastern part of Venezuela, but was routed by the Spaniards in July, and soon returned to Haiti. A few of the Patriots still kept the field, and towards the close of the year Bolivar's partisans secured his recall. On December 21 he left Haiti with a second expedition for the relief of his native land. He determined now to direct all his efforts, not as hitherto, to the support of the Patriot cause in the capital, but to the holding of the great plains of the Orinoco. With this territory as a base, he carried on, during the year 1817, in conjunction with the Llanero horsemen of General Paez, a desperate struggle with the Spaniards. When the rainy season of 1818 began, Bolivar's army had been cut almost to pieces, he had lost prestige as a general, and his civil authority amounted to nothing. Only the cavalry of Paez maintained the Patriot cause. Still the position of the Spaniards was not much better. Morillo had 12,000 men scattered about, but neither money, arms, nor supplies. He reported to the viceroy of Peru: "Twelve pitched battles, in which the best officers and troops of the enemy have fallen, have not lowered their pride or lessened the vigor of their attacks upon us."
In February, 1819, the second Congress of Venezuela convened at Angostura. The Dictator resigned, but was unanimously elected President and given absolute power in all provinces which were the actual theater of war. The army was reorganized by the