Social Studies


what was the goal of simon bolivar for latin america in the 19th century?

1 Answer

  • Bolivar stood apart from his class in ideas, values and vision. Who else would be found in the midst of a campaign swinging in a hammock, reading the French philosophers? His liberal education, wide reading, and travels in Europe had broadened his horizons and opened his mind to the political thinkers of France and Britain. He read deeply in the works of Hobbes and Spinoza, Holbach and Hume; and the thought of Montesquieu and Rousseau left its imprint firmly on him and gave him a life-long devotion to reason, freedom and progress. But he was not a slave of the Enlightenment. British political virtues also attracted him. In his Angostura Address (1819) he recommended the British constitution as 'the most worthy to serve as a model for those who desire to enjoy the rights of man and all political happiness compatible with our fragile nature'. But he also affirmed his conviction that American constitutions must conform to American traditions, beliefs and conditions.

    His basic aim was liberty, which he described as "the only object worth the sacrifice of man's life'. For Bolivar liberty did not simply mean freedom from the absolutist state of the eighteenth century, as it did for the Enlightenment, but freedom from a colonial power, to be followed by true independence under a liberal constitution. And with liberty he wanted equality – that is, legal equality – for all men, whatever their class, creed or colour. In principle he was a democrat and he believed that governments should be responsible to the people. 'Only the majority is sovereign', he wrote; 'he who takes the place of the people is a tyrant and his power is usurpation'. But Bolivar was not so idealistic as to imagine that South America was ready for pure democracy, or that the law could annul the inequalities imposed by nature and society. He spent his whole political life developing and modifying his principles, seeking the elusive mean between democracy and authority. In Bolivar the realist and idealist dwelt in uneasy rivalry.