Jose Francisco de San Martin (1778 -- 1850) and Simon Bolivar (1783 – 1830) were revolutionary leaders who led the fight for freedom in Latin America. They also organized and directed the fight for independence. This paper contains a record of the events that took place during the reign of the two leaders in chronological order. These include the accounts of their childhood years, education and military background, battles they fought as well as their implications for the residents of those particular areas. The lives of the two leaders are then compared based on the information derived from the description. After that, an insightful analysis of the similarities and distinctive qualities and characters of the two leaders is undertaken. The values and moral strengths that they possessed are also highlighted in the research paper. The paper concludes by establishing the differences and similarities between the two leaders.
This research paper is intended to compare and contrast the lives of Jose de San Martin and Simon Bolivar. This will be done through the analysis of the areas they were in command, the achievements and any other information that can help in revealing their character and the values. The methods used include the researches and analysis of reliable publications that have been produced in the past. Similarities and differences of the two leaders will be critically analyzed based on the available factual information.
The research found out that the two contributed heavily to the liberation struggle of Latin Americans against their Spanish oppressors. Therefore, the hero status accorded to them by the residents of Latin America is truly deserved. A notable difference between the two leaders was revealed when Simon Bolivar managed to defeat the Spanish in Venezuela and established a military dictatorship there. This can be compared to the case of San Martin who after defeating the Spanish in Chile declined the leadership role, which was offered to him. Instead, he preferred to continue the fight for freedom, especially in Peru and the rest of the nations that were still under Spanish rule.
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Jose Francisco de San Martin (1778 – 1850) and Simon Bolivar (1783 – 1830) were the key leaders in the struggle for independence in Latin America. The fight for freedom began in two different locations in 1808. In the northern part which is present-day Venezuela, Simon Bolivar’s army led the fight for independence. In the southern part which is modern-day Bolivia, Argentina Uruguay and Paraguay, San Martin led the revolutionaries in the fight for freedom from Spanish rule. However the battle for independence began a little earlier than that in the year 1806, when Francisco de Miranda led the revolution in Venezuela. He succeeded in winning the battle but soon afterwards he became a dictator. Francisco de Miranda later suffered a defeat and the region was reclaimed by the Spanish. He is thus regarded as “the forerunner” in the fight for independence. The two leaders fought and succeeded in the fight for independence.
Jose Francisco de San Martin Matorras, who is simply known as Don Jose de San Martin (Feb 25th 1778 -- August 1850), was a key leader in the fight for independence in the southern part of South America. He is known for his leadership in the struggle for independence of Argentina from Spain. He was born at Jesuit-run Yapeyu’s outpost located in the missionaries’ district of Argentina. His father was the lieutenant governor of that region and he was the youngest in the family. While still at the tender age of three, he moved to Buenos Aires and in December 1783, they set off for Spain. Three years later, he was enrolled at a noble seminary school in Madrid and later he studied in Malaga. At the age of 11, he joined the Murcia Regiment and had his baptism of fire a few years later in North Africa. Following the declaration of war against Great Britain by the Spanish, San Martin was promoted to a sub-lieutenant and fought outside Gibraltar.
San Martin distinguished himself following the seizure of the Spanish colonies in 1808. Being a captain of the Borbon, he took part in the hostilities and fought bravely in the Battle of Bailen on July 19, 1808. He was awarded a gold medal and promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. It was due to the success in the battle of Peninsular that he became famous and gained military experience (John, 1829 423). However, he resigned from the military in September 1814 to join the revolutionary movement in Britain that supported Hispanic Americans in their fight for freedom While in Britain, he met his compatriots and future allies, such as Carlos de Alvear and Jose Matias Zapiola (who were dignitaries sent from South America to seek the support of Great Britain in the independence fight). The three sailed to Argentina on board an English frigate George Canning. Upon reaching their destination, his previous position as a lieutenant colonel was recognized by the revolutionaries. On March 16, 1812, he was ordered to put in place a regime that was entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the banks of Parana. On October 8, he took part in the removal of Triumvirate. One month later he married a 15-year old girl named Remedios de Escarada. In early 1813, he claimed a minor victory at San Lorenzo before scoring a major one at Belgrano. His greatest moment came when he led an army across the Andes. Thomas Maitland had proposed a strategy to be used in the attack, but he was the one who led the actual attack. He assembled a 7000-strong army in Mendoza, and it succeeded in liberating Chile from Spanish rule. San Martin had taken two years to prepare for this war. In the next four years, he scored a series of victories which saw him set free more than a half of South America.
San Martin remained in command of the army until 1817. After his resignation, he was appointed as the governor of the Cuyo providences in the western part of Argentina. He then established a base in Mendoza and assembled an army comprised of Chilean slaves who were promised the freedom in exchange for their military services. He then set off to the northern part of the continent where he caught the Spanish by surprise. A small Spanish force was defeated in the Battle of Chacabuso, which took place on February 12-13, 1817. Following the victory, his army immediately occupied Santiago. He chose his friend and ally Bernado O Higgins to be in charge of the political affairs in Chile. In early 1818, a larger army arrived in Chile under the command of General Mariano Osorio who defeated him in the battle of Cancha-Rayada on March 16, 1818. On April 5, he destroyed the Spanish forces in the battle of Maipu and recaptured Santiago. The Chilean leaders offered him to be a supreme ruler in the region, which he declined in order to continue his fight for independence in Peru. It took him 18 months to prepare for the campaign. Chile and Argentina provided him with ships commanded by Englishman Thomas Cochrane which were to be used for the transportation of the soldiers. Leading a 4,500-strong army he set out for Peru. He was aware that the Spanish army in Peru was larger than his, and that is why he refused to engage it in direct confrontation. He was hoping that an uprising against the Spanish government would ensue. He planned a guerilla warfare which forced the Spanish evacuate from the region in June 1821. Exactly one month later, Peru was declared independent.
After the independence of the Peruvian, a sharp division in the political setting erupted. The rich protested against regulations that stopped child labor, imposed taxes, and introduced a haul to the Indian tribute. The unrest and subsequent arrival of the larger Spanish army prompted San Martin to meet with various revolution leaders, such as Simon Bolivar. Various writers due to the lack of the records contest the meeting, and thus there exists conflicting information. It appears as though he agreed to hand over the leadership to Simon Bolivar. In the year 1822, he resigned and departed to Argentina.
Despite this massive achievement, he was disappointed by the massive insurgence that followed the independence. The bickering and the abuse of independence that followed coincided with the death of his wife. He gave up all his titles and together with his daughter, Mercedes Tomasa left for Europe on a self-imposed exile. He resided in France and England for the rest of his life. He then died on August 17, 1850.
Simon Bolivar, on the other hand, was born in Caracas, on July 24, 1783. He was the youngest of two brothers and two sisters - Alyett Buckner, Turner Hartswell, Emily Morehead (died before she was six), and Simon Bolivar who was the last to be born. His father, who was a successful Creole planter and a militia colonel, died in 1786. His mother was Maria Blanco, and it was she who was responsible for the upbringing of Bolivar. Owing to the great distance to the nearest school, he was unable to attend classes until he was nine years old when he joined a private seminary. He was an heir to the title of Marquis, Son of Luis, although he never used that title. After the death of his mother in 1792, he moved to live with his uncle who continued his upbringing. In 1795, he went on to stay with his teacher who exerted a great influence on him. In 1798 he joined the militia, and in 1799-1802 he lived in Spain in 1892, he moved to France. On May 26, 1802, he married Maria Teresa Rodriguez, and after a short while, the couple moved back to Venezuela. In January 1803, his wife died. He spent the next three years in Europe, where he was able to meet Alexander von Humboldt and other influential leaders. It was in Europe that he re-established his relationship with Simon Rodriguez. While in Rome, he made a vow to liberate Latin America from the Spanish.
After returning to Venezuela in 1807 and up to the year 1810, he focused solely on agriculture and other commercial activities. He played a minor role in the uprising that saw the dissolution of the Spanish monarchy in Venezuela. In April 1810, the revolutionaries that overthrew the Spanish monarch installed Fernando VII, and after that, Bolivar was appointed a commissioner to Great Britain. In that same year, Venezuela was declared independent. In July 1811, Bolivar was involved in an effort to control the counter-revolutionary movement which had emerged in Valencia. Following a devastating earthquake in Caracas in 1812, he mobilized the people of Caracas against colonial powers. He took part in the arrest of Francisco de Miranda to prevent his escape from the country. In December 1812, he resumed fighting, and eventually succeeded in placing most of Venezuela in the hands of the citizens. While still a fugitive in New Granada, he assisted the federal government to defeat the state of Cundinamarca. However, owing to the internal divisions within the government, he moved to West Indies where from 1815 he was engaged in publishing activities.
From 1816 to1819, he attempted to establish himself in Venezuela. It was there that the first declaration against slavery was issued. He then helped in the establishment of a temporary government in the lower parts of the Orinoco river. In 1819, he inaugurated another congress in Venezuela and made a political statement which is referred to as the Angostura Address. In that same year, the liberation of New Granada was successfully accomplished. Towards the end of the year, the Angostura Congress proclaimed the establishment of Colombia Republic which was comprised of New Granada, Quito (currently Ecuador), and Venezuela. The battle of Carabobo that took place on June 24, 1821, put an end to hostlities in Venezuela. At its meeting in Cucuta, the Colombian Congress adopted a formal constitution and elected Bolivar as the first president, and Francisco de Paula Santander as vice-president. The vice president took over when Bolivar left to continue with the military operations.
Antonio Jose de Sucre, who was Bolivar’s lieutenant, won the Battle of Pichincha. This victory provided an opportunity for Bolivar to enter Quito. During that same period, Bolivar met Jose de San Martin, the liberator of Argentina. They discussed matters pertaining to the liberation of Peru and the future political order of Spanish America. The discussion was not fruitful, as they failed to agree. In the year 1823, he arrived in Peru to assist in their struggle for independence at the invitation of the Peruvian government. In 1824, Bolivar managed to win a major battle in the highlands. After that, a meeting was called in Panama City at which the possibility of an alliance amongst principal stakeholders was to be discussed. Two days after that, Sucre defeated the Peruvian viceroy in the Battle of Ayacucho. In 1826, he was invited to make a draft constitution, and in the year 1827, he made the presentation of the draft. At the end of 1827, he engaged in talks with Paez to end the revolution that had started in Venezuela. However, there was a disagreement with his vice-president. In 1828, he returned to Columbia and established a military dictatorship in an effort to maintain stability in Colombia. There was an attempt on his life and he only narrowly escaped being killed. He suspected Vice-president Santander of being responsible for the failed assassination attempt but he lacked enough evidence to prove that. In the year 1929, Bolivar was in Ecuador engaging in consultations to stop the fight between Colombia and Peru. Owing to the demonstrations initiated by his supporters, there was more violence, and especially in Venezuela. Facing the threat of cessation of Venezuela from Colombia and being under pressure from liberals from New Granada, he resigned as president in 1830. He meant to travel for exile in a foreign land but he died in Santa Marta, on December 17, 1830. He was truly a Hispanic American hero. He was always on the lookout for solutions to the problems facing him at the time. Great Britain needed the backing of the Spanish in its war against France, and thus Bolivar could not obtain sufficient help for his fight against the Spanish for independence. Even faced with such a hard reality, he never backed down. Instead, he proposed teaching the upcoming generation and women in an effort to reduce influence exerted by the Spanish colonial rulers. He was impressed by the British monarchy and had little respect for France and Spain, which he found to be corrupt and feeble. On his visits to Europe, he met influential people, such as William Wilberforce who was a publicist opposed to the slave trade in the region. He viewed Great Britain as a role model country for the new Venezuela. He was greatly influenced by the American Revolution, especially in his desire for independence for his people. This saw him earn the name of George Washington of South America. He also admired Thomas Jefferson, and even sent his nephew to the University of Virginia, which was founded by him. The major difference between him and Thomas Jefferson lied in the fact that he did not support slave labor; this despite coming from an area that heavily relied on slave trade.
Owing to the fact that the two leaders were serving in almost similar periods and their struggles were similar in so many ways, there have been several attempts by various writers to compare and contrast them. John Lynch noted that it is important to judge the great Latin American heroes by their individual contribution to the fight for independence. However, he indicated that the comparison amongst the two is inevitable owing to the close similarities in the roles they played in the Latin American revolution. What makes the two heroes conspicuously different is the fact that Bolivar was more open-minded, and many of his personal traits can easily be identified from his actions. He always spoke his mind without any hesitation whatsoever. For instance, he openly expressed his thoughts on the difference between North and South Americans. He believed that the southerners were less civilized, and thus ungovernable. It is in this context that he favored a military dictatorship in the south. Bolivar was outspoken, and thus biographers did not experience a lot of difficulties. However, San Martin was somehow different in the sense that he kept quiet about his private life and kept his emotions in check throughout the revolutionary period. Therefore, it is not easy for the historians that to learn and discover his nature.
Bolivar also replicates San Martin’s role as a liberator and protector of Peru. In chapters seven and eight, some striking similarities could be detected between the two in terms of basic ideas. Their initial interest in the struggle for independence was explained by the fact that they upheld republican idealism. They both saw these ideas eroded by the circumstances (224). The two of them sought a balance between the need to have absolute power and preference for the liberal system of the government.
The two leaders are comparable in terms of their childhood years during which they led a normal life. The only difference was the fact that Bolivar’s father died when he was only three. His mother was the one who brought him up, but later he was forced to stay with his uncle for some time. His parents who left Hispanic America for Spain when he was still young brought up San Martin. A notable similarity is the fact that the two individuals had influential parents. San Martin’s father was an officer in the Spanish army, while Bolivar’s parents were successful farmers. They were both taken to seminary schools at a very young age. They later joined military schools in Spain, with San Martin joining his school at the age of 11. On the other hand, Simon Bolivar’s father, who was a farmer, did not have much interest in politics. However, after going to school and staying with his uncle, he developed keen interest in the freedom for Latin America. While staying in Rome, he vowed to dedicate his life to the struggle for the independence of Latin America. Unlike Bolivar, San Martin retired from the military and dedicated his life to the fight for the freedom of Latin America.
Another notable difference between the two individuals was the quest for power. When Simon Bolivar overthrew Spanish rule, he readily took control of the government and imposed a military dictatorship. However, the uprising in Venezuela forced him to relinquish his power. Unlike Bolivar, Jose de San Martin was requested to take over the absolute leadership of the nation, a role he declined citing the need to continue with the fight for independence in other parts of South America where Spanish rule was still strong. These two incidences highlight a clear distinction between the two leaders. San Martin strove to achieve good for all, while Bolivar would only settle for a comfort zone. Fighting for the liberation of the entire Hispanic American continent, San de Martin was not driven by any personal interest whatsoever. On the other hand, Simon Bolivar was hungry for power and could use any means available to hold on to it. The only time we see San de Martin accept presidency is in the case of Venezuela, which he assumed in order to prevent resurgence and internal wrangling that characterized the situation there. This saw him earn the title of the Protector, while Simon Bolivar was referred to as El Liberator.
Based on the above description of the roles, characters and achievements of each of the two liberation leaders, I admire the character of San de Martin. He is reserved and does not attract much of the publicity. His quest for freedom was for the general good. He did not stand to benefit from the newly created republics and declined to assume leadership position in Chile. This shows that he possessed a noble character and was only interested in the fight for independence. Another factor that will make him a favorite in the contest between the two was the fact that he resigned from a leadership position in Spain and joined the revolution. He had the connections in the military leadership that could have landed him a position in any country, but he chose to fight for the oppressed.
Jose de San Martin and Simon Bolivar were without doubt influential and effective in their fight for Latin American independence. They succeed in mobilizing soldiers and the public in the fight against Spanish rule, and assisted in drafting of constitutions and establishment of boundaries. They were true heroes and deserve to be held in high esteem for what they accomplished.
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