Bolívar’s Dreams of Gran Colombia

Joseph M. Parent

in Uniting States

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199782192
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919147 | DOI:
Bolívar’s Dreams of Gran Colombia

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This chapter charts the stellar success and then tragic failure of Simon Bolívar’s attempt to unify several states in northern South America into Gran Colombia. Despite his great charisma and military skill, Bolívar was unable to hold together his state for long after independence. The chapter argues that the Napoleonic Wars cropped Spanish power and hobbled its finances, such that the previously formidable colonial power transformed into a minimal threat. This reversal in Spain’s fortunes drove the initial successes and ultimate failure in South American unification. Leaders that acted in accord with this reality advanced while those that did not were destroyed. External threat explains Gran Colombia’s trajectory.

Keywords: Gran Colombia; Bolivar; San Martin; union; unification; South American independence

Chapter.  7347 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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