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Simón Bolívar

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Simón Bolívar

Simón Bolívar
President of the Second Republic of Venezuela
In office
August 7, 1813 – July 16, 1814
Preceded by Francisco de Miranda
(As 3rd President of the First Republic of Venezuela)
Succeeded by Himself
President of the Third Republic of Venezuela
In office
October 1817 – December 17, 1819
Preceded by Himself
Succeeded by Jose Antonio Paez
(As 1st President of Venezuela)
1st President of Gran Colombia
In office
December 17, 1819 – May 4, 1830
Vice President Francisco de Paula Santander
Succeeded by Domingo Caycedo
1st President of Bolivia
In office
August 12, 1825 – December 29, 1825
Succeeded by Antonio Jose de Sucre
8th President of Peru
In office
February 8, 1824 – January 28, 1827
Preceded by José Bernardo de Tagle, Marquis of Torre-Tagle
Succeeded by Andrés de Santa Cruz
Personal details
Born Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios
(1783-07-24)24 July 1783
Caracas, Captaincy General of Venezuela, Spanish Empire (present-day Venezuela)
Died 17 December 1830(1830-12-17) (aged 47)
Santa Marta, Gran Colombia (present-day Colombia)
Nationality Venezuelan
Spouse(s) María Teresa Rodríguez del Toro y Alaysa
Religion Roman Catholic

Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco (24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830), commonly known as Simón Bolívar (IPA:  ( )) or Simon Bolivar (), was a Venezuelan military and political leader. Bolívar played a key role in Latin America's successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire, and is today considered one of the most influential politicians in the history of the Americas.

Following the triumph over the Spanish monarchy, Bolívar participated in the foundation of the first union of independent nations in Hispanic-America, a republic, now known as Gran Colombia, of which he was president from 1819 to 1830. Bolívar is regarded as a hero, visionary, revolutionary, and liberator in Hispanic-America.

During his lifetime, he led Venezuela, Colombia (including Panama at the time), Ecuador, Peru (together with Don José de San Martín), and Bolivia to independence from the Spanish Empire. Admirers claim that he helped lay the foundations for democracy in much of Latin America.


  • Family history 1
  • Early life 2
    • Military career 2.1
  • El Libertador 3
  • Proclamation of presidency 4
  • Death 5
  • Private life 6
  • Descriptions of Bolívar 7
    • Ducoudray Holstein's description of Bolívar 7.1
    • Karl Marx's description of Bolívar 7.2
  • Relatives 8
  • Political beliefs 9
  • Freemasonry 10
  • Legacy 11
    • Political legacy 11.1
    • Monuments and physical legacy 11.2
  • See also 12
  • Explanatory notes 13
  • References 14
  • Further reading 15
  • External links 16

Family history

The surname Bolívar derives from the Bolívar aristocrats who came from a small village in the Basque Country, Spain, called La Puebla de Bolívar.[1] His father came from the male line of the Ardanza family.[2][3] His maternal grandmother was descended from families from the Canary Islands that settled in the country.[1]

The Bolívars settled in Venezuela in the sixteenth century. His first South American Bolívar ancestor was Simón de Bolívar (or Simon de Bolibar; the spelling was not standardized until the nineteenth century), who went to live and work with the governor of Santo Domingo from 1550 to 1570. When the governor of Santo Domingo was reassigned to Venezuela by the Spanish Crown in 1589, Simón de Bolívar came back with him. As an early settler in Caracas Province, he became prominent in the local society and he and his descendants were granted estates, encomiendas, and positions in the Caracas cabildo.[4]

The social position of the family is illustrated by the fact that when the Caracas Cathedral was built in 1594, the Bolívar family had one of the first dedicated side chapels. The majority of the wealth of Simón de Bolívar's descendants came from the estates. The most important of these estates was a sugar plantation with an encomienda that provided the labor needed to run the estate.[5] Another portion of Bolívar wealth came from the silver, gold, and more importantly, copper mines in Venezuela. In 1632, small gold deposits first were mined in Venezuela, leading to further discoveries of much more extensive copper deposits. From his mother's side, the Palacios family, Bolívar inherited the copper mines at Cocorote. Native American and African slaves provided the majority of the labor in these mines.[6]

Toward the end of the seventeenth century, copper exploitation became so prominent in Venezuela that it became known as Cobre Caracas ("Caracas copper"). Many of the mines became the property of the Bolívar family. Bolívar's grandfather, Juan de Bolívar y Martínez de Villegas, paid 22,000 ducats to the monastery at Santa Maria de Montserrat in 1728 for a title of nobility that had been granted by the king, Philip V of Spain, for its maintenance. The crown never issued the patent of nobility, and so the purchase became the subject of lawsuits that were still going on during Bolívar's lifetime, when independence from Spain made the point moot. (If successful, Bolívar's older brother, Juan Vicente, would have become the Marqués de San Luis and Vizconde de Cocorote.) Bolívar gave away his personal fortune to the revolution.[7]:6

Early life

Birthplace of Simón Bolívar in Caracas, Venezuela (now a museum)
An 18th-century portrait of Juan Vicente Bolívar y Ponte, father of Simón Bolívar

Simón Bolívar was born in a house in Caracas, Captaincy General of Venezuela (now the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela), on 24 July 1783.[7]:6 Bolívar was baptized as Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios. His mother was Doña María de la Concepción Palacios y Blanco and his father was Coronel Don Juan Vicente Bolívar y Ponte. He had two older sisters and a brother: María Antonia, Juana, and Juan Vicente. Another sister, María del Carmen, died at birth.[8]

Bolívar's parents found themselves in a circumstance that forced them to entrust the baby Simón Bolívar to the care of Doña Ines Manceba de Miyares and the family's slave la negra Hipolita. A couple of years later Bolívar returned to the love and care of his parents, but this traumatic experience would have a severe effect on Bolívar's life. Before his third birthday, his father Juan Vicente had died.[8]

Bolívar, circa 1800

Bolívar's father died in his sleep when Bolívar was two and a half years old. Bolívar's mother, Maria Concepción de Palacios y Blanco, died when he was approaching nine years of age. He then was placed in the custody of a severe instructor, Miguel José Sanz, but this relationship did not work out and he was sent back to his home. In an effort to give Bolívar the best education possible, he received private lessons from the renowned professors Andrés Bello, Guillermo Pelgrón, Jose Antonio Negrete, Fernando Vides, Father Andújar, and the most influential of all, Don Simón Rodríguez, formerly known as Simón Carreño. Don Simón Rodriguez was later to become Bolívar's friend and mentor, and he instilled in the young man the ideas of liberty, enlightenment, and freedom.[9]

In the meantime, he was mostly cared for by his nurse, a black slave woman named Hipólita, whom he later called "the only mother I have known."[10] His instructor Don Simón understood the young Bolívar's personality and inclinations, and tried from the very beginning to be an empathetic friend. They took long walks through the countryside and climbed mountains. Don Simón taught Bolívar how to swim and ride horses, and, in the process, taught him about liberty, human rights, politics, history, and sociology.[9]

Military career

When Bolívar was fourteen, his private instructor and mentor Simón Rodríguez had to abandon the country, as he was accused of being involved in a conspiracy against the Spanish government in Caracas. Thus, Bolívar entered the military academy of the Milicias de Veraguas, which his father had sought out as colonel years earlier. Through these years of military training, he developed his fervent passion for armaments and military strategy, which he later would employ on the battlefields of the wars of independence.[9] A few years later, while in Paris, Bolívar witnessed the coronation of Napoleon in Notre Dame, and this majestic event left a profound impression upon him. From that moment he wished that he could emulate similar triumphant glory for the people of his native land.[9]

El Libertador

Simon Bolivar

Bolívar returned to Venezuela in 1807. After the coup on April 19, 1810, Venezuela achieved de facto independence when the Supreme Junta of Caracas was established and the colonial administrators deposed. The Junta sent a delegation to Great Britain to get British recognition and aid. This delegation, which included Simón Bolívar and future Venezuelan notables Andrés Bello and Luis Lopez Mendez, met with and persuaded Francisco de Miranda to return to his native land. In 1811 a delegation from the Supreme Junta, among them Bolívar, and a crowd of common people enthusiastically received Miranda in La Guaira.[11] During civil war conducted by Miranda, Bolívar was promoted to colonel and made commandant of Puerto Cabello the following in 1812. At the same time that royalist Frigate Captain Domingo de Monteverde was making fast and vast advances into republican territory from the west, Bolívar lost control of San Felipe Fort along with its ammunition stores on June 30 of 1812. Deciding that the situation was lost, Bolívar effectively abandoned his post and retreated to his estate in San Mateo. Miranda also saw the republican cause as lost and signed in San Mateo town a capitulation with Monteverde on July 25. Then Colonel Bolívar and other revolutionary officers claimed his actions as treasonous. In one of Bolívar's most morally dubious acts, Bolívar and others arrested and handed Miranda over to the Spanish Royal Army in La Guaira port.[12] For his apparent services to the royalist cause, Monteverde granted Bolívar a passport, and Bolívar left for Curaçao on August 27. In 1813 he was given a military command in Tunja, New Granada (modern day Colombia), under the direction of the Congress of United Provinces of New Granada, which had formed out of the juntas established in 1810.

Bolívar in 1816, during his stay in Haiti

This was the beginning of the famous Admirable Campaign. He entered Mérida on 24 May, where he was proclaimed as El Libertador (The Liberator).[13] That event was followed by the occupation of Trujillo on 9 June. Six days later, on 15 June, he dictated his famous Decree of War to the Death, allowing the killing of any Spaniard not actively supporting independence. Caracas was retaken on 6 August 1813 and Bolívar was ratified as "El Libertador", thus proclaiming the restoration of the Venezuelan republic. Due to the rebellion of José Tomás Boves in 1814 and the fall of the republic, he returned to New Granada, where he then commanded a force for the United Provinces and entered Bogotá in 1814, recapturing the city from the dissenting republican forces of Cundinamarca. He intended to march into Cartagena and enlist the aid of local forces in order to capture Royalist Santa Marta. In 1815, after a number of political and military disputes with the government of Cartagena, however, Bolívar fled to Jamaica, where he was denied support and an attempt was made on his life,[14] after which he fled to Haiti, where he was granted sanctuary and protection. He befriended Alexandre Pétion, the leader of the newly independent country, and petitioned him for aid.[13]

Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander during the Congress of Cúcuta, October 1821

In 1816, with Haitian soldiers and vital material support, Bolívar landed in Venezuela and fulfilled his promise to Alexandre Petion to free Spanish America's slaves on 2 June 1816.[7]:186 In January 1817, on a second expedition, Bolivar captured Angostura in July (now Ciudad Bolívar),[7]:192-201 after defeating the counter-attack of Miguel de la Torre. However, Venezuela remained a captaincy of Spain after the victory in 1818 by Pablo Morillo in the second battle of La Puerta.[7]:212 Yet, Bolivar was able to open the Second National Congress in Angostura on 15 Feb. 1819, in which Bolivar was elected president and Francisco Antonio Zea vice president.[7]:222-225 Bolívar then decided that he would first fight for the independence of New Granada, to gain resources of the vice royalty, intending later to consolidate the independence of Venezuela.[15]

The campaign for the independence of New Granada was consolidated with the victory at the Battle of Boyacá on 7 Aug. 1819.[7]:233 Bolivar returned to Angostura, where congress passed a law forming the Republic of Greater Colombia on 17 Dec., making Bolivar president and Zea vice president, with Santander vice president on the New Granada side, and Juan German Roscio vice president on the Venezuela side.[7]:246-247 Morillo was left in control of Caracas and the coastal highlands.[7]:248 After the restoration of the Cadiz Constitution, Morillo ratified two treaties with Bolivar on 25 Nov. 1820, calling for a six-month armistice and recognizing Bolivar as president of the republic.[7]:254-255 Bolivar and Morilla met in San Fernando de Apure on 27 Nov., after which Morilla left Venezuela for Spain, leaving La Torre in command.[7]:255-257

From his newly consolidated base of power, Bolívar launched outright independence campaigns in Venezuela and Ecuador, and these campaigns were concluded with the victory at the Battle of Carabobo, after which he triumphantly entered Caracas on 29 June 1821.[7]:267 On 7 September 1821 the Gran Colombia (a state covering much of modern Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, northern Peru, and northwest of Brazil) was created, with Bolívar as president and Francisco de Paula Santander as vice president. Bolivar followed with the Battle of Bombona and the Battle of Pichincha, after which Bolivar entered Quito on 16 June 1822.[7]:287

On 26 and 27 July 1822, Bolívar held the Antonio José de Sucre, Bolívar decisively defeated the Spanish cavalry at the Battle of Junín on 6 August 1824. Sucre destroyed the still numerically superior remnants of the Spanish forces at Ayacucho on 9 December 1824.

On 6 August 1825, at the Congress of Upper Peru, the "Republic of Bolivia" was created, and voted Bolivar president.[7]:346 Bolívar is thus one of the few men to have a country named after him.

Bolivar returned to Caracas on 12 Jan. 1827, but returned to Bogota on 10 Sept. 1827 to assume absolute power, setting the date of the constituent congress, 2 Jan. 1830, as the day he would surrender power.[7]:369,378,408

Proclamation of presidency

Battle of Carabobo, 24 June 1821
Battle of Junín, August 1824

Bolívar had great difficulties maintaining control of the vast Gran Colombia. In 1826, internal divisions had sparked dissent throughout the nation, and regional uprisings erupted in Venezuela. The new South American union had revealed its fragility and appeared to be on the verge of collapse. To preserve the union, an amnesty was declared and an arrangement was reached with the Venezuelan rebels, but this increased the political dissent in neighboring New Granada. In an attempt to keep the nation together as a single entity, Bolívar called for a constitutional convention at Ocaña in March 1828.[16]

Bolívar's dream was freedom for all races in the Americas, but felt the federation found in the US was unworkable.[7]:106,166 For this reason, and to prevent a break-up, Bolívar sought to implement a more centralist model of government in Gran Colombia, including some or all of the elements of the Bolivian constitution he had written, which included a lifetime presidency with the ability to select a successor (although theoretically, this presidency was held in check by an intricate system of balances).[7]:351 This move was considered controversial in New Granada and was one of the reasons for the deliberations, which met from 9 April to 10 June 1828. The convention almost ended up drafting a document which would have implemented a radically federalist form of government, which would have greatly reduced the powers of a central administration. The federalist faction was able to command a majority for the draft of a new constitution which has definite federal characteristics despite its ostensibly centralist outline. Unhappy with what would be the ensuing result, pro-Bolívar delegates withdrew from the convention, leaving it moribund.[17]

Two months after the failure of this congress to write a new constitution, Bolívar was declared president-liberator in Colombia's "Organic Decree".[7]:394 He considered this as a temporary measure, as a means to reestablish his authority and save the republic, although it increased dissatisfaction and anger among his political opponents.[7]:408 An assassination attempt on 25 September 1828 failed, thanks to the help of his lover, Manuela Sáenz.[7]:399-405 Bolívar afterward described Manuela as "Liberatrix of the Liberator".[7]:403 Although Bolívar emerged safely from the attempt, this nevertheless greatly affected him. Dissent continued, and uprisings occurred in New Granada, Venezuela, and Ecuador during the next two years.[17] Finally, Bolivar recommended the republic be divided into three separate states: Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador, and he would depart after the constitutional congress in Jan. 1830.[7]:427


Sketch of Bolívar at age 47 made from life by José María Espinosa in 1830

Saying, "All who served the Revolution have plowed the sea",[7]:450 Bolívar finally resigned his presidency on 27 April 1830, intending to leave the country for exile in Europe.[7]:435 He already had sent several crates (containing his belongings and writings, which he had selected) ahead of him to Europe,[18] but he died before setting sail from Cartagena.

On 17 December 1830, at the age of 47, Simón Bolívar died of tuberculosis[19] in the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino in Santa Marta, Gran Colombia (now Colombia). On his deathbed, Bolívar asked his aide-de-camp, General Daniel F. O'Leary to burn the remaining, extensive archive of his writings, letters, and speeches. O'Leary disobeyed the order and his writings survived, providing historians with a wealth of information about Bolívar's liberal philosophy and thought, as well as details of his personal life, such as his long love affair with Manuela Sáenz. Shortly before her own death in 1856, Sáenz augmented this collection by giving O'Leary her own letters from Bolívar.[18]

Bolívar's death by Venezuelan painter Antonio Herrera Toro

His remains were buried in the cathedral of Santa Marta. Twelve years later, in 1842, at the request of President José Antonio Páez, they were moved from Santa Marta to Caracas, where a monument was set up for his interment in the National Pantheon of Venezuela. The 'Quinta' near Santa Marta has been preserved as a museum with numerous references to his life.[20] In 2010, symbolic remains of Bolívar's lover, Manuela Sáenz, were interred by his side during a national ceremony reuniting them and honoring her role in the liberations.[21]

On January 2008, then President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez set up a commission[22] to investigate theories that Bolívar was the victim of an assassination. On several occasions, Chavez has claimed that Bolívar was in fact poisoned by "New Granada traitors".[23] In April 2010, infectious diseases specialist Paul Auwaerter studied records of Bolívar's symptoms and concluded that he might have suffered from chronic arsenic poisoning, but that both acute poisoning and murder were unlikely.[24][25] In July 2010, Bolívar's body was ordered to be exhumed to advance the investigations.[26] In July 2011, international forensics experts released their report claiming that there was no proof of poisoning or other unnatural cause of death.[27]

Private life

Manuela Sáenz, lover of Bolívar who rescued him from an assassination attempt and whose remains have recently been united with his

In 1799, following the early deaths of his father Juan Vicente (died 1786) and his mother Concepción (died 1792), he traveled to Mexico, France, and Spain, at age sixteen, to complete his education. While in Madrid during 1802 and after a two-year courtship, he married María Teresa Rodríguez del Toro y Alaiza, who was his only wife. She was related to the aristocratic families of the Marqués del Toro of Caracas and the Marqués de Inicio of Madrid.[9] Eight months after returning to Venezuela with him, she died from yellow fever. Devastated by his sudden loss and after having sworn never to marry again Bolívar returned to Europe in 1804 where interest in politics became the best medicine against his acute depression. Not surprisingly many years later Bolivar would refer to the death of his wife as the turning point of his life. He lived in Napoleonic France for a while and undertook the Grand Tour.[28] During this time in Europe, Bolivar met Alexander von Humboldt in Rome, Humboldt later writing, "I was wrong back then, when I judged him a puerile man, incapable of realizing so grand an ambition.[7]:64

Descriptions of Bolívar

Ducoudray Holstein's description of Bolívar

In his Memoirs of Simon Bolivar, Henri La Fayette Villaume Ducoudray Holstein - who himself has been called a "not-always-reliable and never impartial witness" [29]) - described the young Bolivar as he was attempting to seize power in Venezuela and Bolivia in 1814-1816 .

Ducoudray Holstein joined Bolivar and served on his staff as officer and Bolivar's confident during this period. He describes Bolivar as a coward who repeatedly abandoned his military commission in front of enemy, and also as also a great lover of women, being accompanied at all times by 2 or more of his mistresses during the military operations. He would not hesitate to stop the fleet transporting the whole army and bound for Margarita Island during 2 days in order to wait for his mistress to join his ship.

According to Ducoudray Holstein Bolivar behaved essentially as an opportunist preferring intrigues and secret manipulation to open fight. He was also incompetent in military matters, systematically avoiding any risks and permanently anxious for his own safety.

In Diario de Bucaramanga, a publication by the Ministry of Popular Power for Communication and Information, Bolivar's opinion of Ducoudray is presented when Louis Peru de Lacroix asked who had been Bolivar's aides-de-camp since he had been general, he mentioned Charles Eloi Demarquet and Ducoudray; Bolivar confirmed the first but denied the second, saying that he had met him in 1815 and accepted his services, even admitting him to his General Staff, but "I never trusted him enough to make him my aide de camp; to the contrary I had a very unfavorable idea of his person and his services", and that Ducoudray only stayed briefly with him and that his departure had been a "real pleasure".[30]

Karl Marx's description of Bolívar

“Moreover a longish article on Bolivar elicited objections from Dana because, he said, it is written in a ‘partisan style’, and he asked me to cite my authorities. This I can, of course, do, although it is a singular demand. As regards the ‘partisan style’, it is true that I departed somewhat from the tone of a cyclopedia. To see the dastardly, most miserable and meanest of blackguards described as Napoleon I was altogether too much. Bolivar is a veritable Soulouque.

Karl Marx [31]

In an unsympathetic biography titled Bolivar y Ponte, Simon published in the New American Cyclopedia, Karl Marx criticized much of Bolívar's life. Marx begins saying that Bolívar was born to a family of "creole nobility in Venezuela" and that similar to the "custom of wealthy Americans of those times, at the early age of 14 he was sent to Europe". Throughout Marx's piece, he explains how Bolívar abandoned his troops multiple times as well. Marx also explains how Bolívar had to be persuaded by his cousin Ribas to return to fight against the Spanish after staying at Carthagena. Marx then explains that after arriving in Caracas in 1813, Bolívar's "dictatorship soon proved a military anarchy, leaving the most important affairs in the hands of favorites, who squandered the finances of the country, and then resorted to odious means in order to restore them". At the conclusion of the biography, Marx uses Ducoudray Holstein's description of Bolívar.[31]

According to Beddow and Thibodeaux, Marx called Bolívar a "[f]alsifier, deserter, conspirator, liar, coward, and looter" stating that Marx dismissed Bolívar as a "false liberator who merely sought to preserve the power of the old Creole nobility which he belonged".[32]


Bolívar had no children, having contracted measles and mumps as a child. His closest living relatives descend from his sisters and brother. One of his sisters died in infancy. His sister Juana Bolívar y Palacios married their maternal uncle, Dionisio Palacios y Blanco, and had two children, Guillermo and Benigna. Guillermo Palacios died fighting alongside his uncle Simón in the battle of La Hogaza on 2 December 1817. Benigna had two marriages, the first to Pedro Briceño Méndez and the second to Pedro Amestoy.[33] Their great-grandchildren, Bolívar's closest living relatives, Pedro, and Eduardo Mendoza Goiticoa lived in Caracas, as of 2009. The family still lives in Caracas today.

His eldest sister, María Antonia, married Pablo Clemente Francia and had four children: Josefa, Anacleto, Valentina, and Pablo. María Antonia became Bolívar's agent to deal with his properties while he served as president of Gran Colombia and she was an executrix of his will. She retired to Bolívar's estate in Macarao, which she inherited from him.[34]

His older brother, Juan Vicente, who died in 1811 on a diplomatic mission to the United States, had three children born out of wedlock whom he recognized: Juan, Fernando Simón, and Felicia Bolívar Tinoco. Bolívar provided for the children and their mother after his brother's death. Bolívar was especially close to Fernando and in 1822 sent him to study in the United States, where he attended the University of Virginia. In his long life, Fernando had minor participation in some of the major political events of Venezuelan history and also traveled and lived extensively throughout Europe. He had three children, Benjamín Bolívar Gauthier, Santiago Hernández Bolívar, and Claudio Bolívar Taraja. Fernando died in 1898 at the age of 88.[35]

Political beliefs

Simón Bolívar was an admirer of both the American and the French Revolutions.[7]:35,52-53 Bolivar even enrolled his nephew, Fernando Bolivar, in a private school in Philadelphia, and paid for his education, including attendance at Thomas Jefferson' University of Virginia.[7]:71-72, 369 Bolívar differed, however, in political philosophy from the leaders of the revolution in the United States on two important matters. First of all, he was staunchly anti-slavery, despite coming from an area of Spanish America, that relied heavily on slave labor. Second, while he was an admirer of the American independence, he did not believe that its governmental system could function in Latin America.[36] Thus, he claimed that the governance of heterogeneous societies like Venezuela "will require an infinitely firm hand."[37]

Bolívar felt that the US had been established in land especially fertile for democracy. By contrast, he referred to Spanish America as having been subject to the "triple yoke of ignorance, tyranny, and vice."[7]:224 If a republic could be established in such a land, in his mind, it would have to make some concessions in terms of liberty. This is shown when Bolívar blamed the fall of the first republic on his subordinates trying to imitate "some ethereal republic" and in the process, not paying attention to the gritty political reality of South America.[38]

Among the books accompanying him as he traveled were, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, Voltaire's Letters, and when he was writing the Bolivian Constitution, Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws.[39] His Bolivian constitution placed him within the camp of what would become Latin American conservatism in the later nineteenth century. The Bolivian Constitution intended to establish a lifelong presidency and a hereditary senate, essentially recreating the British unwritten constitution, as it existed at the time, without formally establishing a monarchy. It was his attempts to implement a similar constitution in Gran Colombia that led to his downfall and rejection by 1830.


Similarly to some others in the history of American Independence (Miguel Hidalgo, José de San Martín, Bernardo O'Higgins and Francisco Miranda), Simón Bolívar was a Freemason. He was initiated in 1803 in the Masonic Lodge Lautaro which operated in Cadiz, Spain.[40] It was in this lodge that he first met some of his revolutionary peers, such as José de San Martín. In May 1806 he was conferred the rank of Master Mason in the "Scottish Mother of St. Alexander of Scotland" in Paris. During his time in London, he frequented "The Great American Reunion" lodge in London, founded by Francisco de Miranda. In April 1824, Simón Bolívar was given the 33rd degree of Inspector General Honorary.


Simón Bolívar Memorial Monument, standing in Santa Marta (Colombia) at the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino
Statue of Bolivar in Plaza Bolívar in Caracas by Adamo Tadolino
Simón Bolívar's statue in Paris
A monument in honor of Simon Bolivar in Sofia, Bulgaria

Political legacy

Due the historical relevance of Bolivar as a key element during the process of independence in Hispanic America, his memory has been strongly attached to sentiments of nationalism and patriotism, being a recurrent theme of rhetoric in politics, more notably in Venezuela. For instance, the nationalist government led by Marcos Perez Jimenez, the right-wing candidate Renny Ottolina and the left-wing political movement led by Hugo Chávez in Venezuela makes the memory, image and writing legacy of Bolívar an important part of its political message and agenda from a socialist perspective, .[41][42] Since the image of Bolívar became an important part to the national identities of Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, his mantle is often claimed by Hispanic American politicians all across the political spectrum.[43][2] Bolivia and Venezuela (the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) are both named after Bolívar.

Monuments and physical legacy

The nations of Bolivia and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Venezuela) are named after Bolívar.

Most cities and towns in Venezuela and Colombia have a bust or statue of Bolívar. The capital cities in Ecuador, Peru, Panama, the United States, Canada, Cuba and Bolivia also have busts and/or statues of Bolívar.

In Venezuela, nearly every city or town has a main square known as Plaza Bolívar.

  • Bilbao (Basque Country, Spain), "Simón Bolívar Street", a street in Bilbao city center to honour Bolívar and his Basque ancestry and a monument at Venezuela square.
  • The main square in Bogotá, Colombia is called plaza de Bolívar (Bolivar Square), around this square rise the Colombian national capitol, the Colombian palace of justice, the palace of Lievano (which houses the mayor of Bogotá), and the main cathedral of the city.
  • Bolivar (Basque Country, Spain), Bolívar's ancestor's home town; a monument to Bolívar, a gift by Venezuela. A museum devoted to Simón Bolívar, his family and ancestors was built in Simón Bolívar's patrimonial house.
  • Currencies; the boliviano and the Venezuelan bolívar
  • The Venezuelan Navy has a sail training barque named after him.
  • USS Simon Bolivar (SSBN-641), a Benjamin Franklin-class fleet ballistic missile submarine which served with the U.S. Navy, was named after him. It was commissioned in October 1965, de-activated in September 1994 and de-commissioned in February 1995.
  • An avenue in Paris, France, is named after him.
  • There is an avenue in Monterrey Mexico named after him
  • The Pétion-Bolivar square and avenue in Jacmel Haiti, are both named after Bolivar and Alexandre Pétion who while on Bolivar's stop to Haiti in 1816, befriended him and gave him military and material support for his future expedition.
  • A square near Tahrir Square in the downtown of Cairo, Egypt is named after him.
  • There is a road in New Delhi, India named after Bolívar.
  • There is a large bronze equestrian statue of Simon Bolivar at the entrance to Central Park at Avenue of the Americas in New York, New York.[44]
  • There is a providence (region) in Ecuador name after Bolivar
  • A street in the central district of Cankaya in Ankara, Turkey is named after him.
  • There is a bust of Bolivar in the uppermost lobby of the European Parliament Building in Brussels, Belgium.
  • Asteroid 712 Boliviana is named in his honor.
  • The Bolivar Peninsula, Texas was named in his honor.
  • The small town of Bolivar, West Virginia was named in his honor.
  • The small town of Bolivar, Ohio was named in his honor.
  • Bolivar County, Mississippi is named in his honor.
  • Bolivar, Tennessee, a small town in Hardeman County, Tennessee is named after him.
  • There is an equestrian statue of Bolivar in the city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
  • There is a small statue of him in the city of Havana, Cuba.
  • There is a statue of Bolivar in the city of Paris, France.
  • There is a statue of Bolivar at nám. Interbrigády International Brigades Square in the Dejvice neighbourhood in the city of Prague, Czech Republic.
  • There is an avenue named after Simon Bolivar, as well as a monument to him containing a large statue of the Liberator, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • There is a statue of Bolivar in the city of Ottawa, Canada.
  • There is a statue of Bolivar in the city of Marina di Camerota, Italy.
  • A Statue in Belgrave Square, London.
  • There is a statue of Bolivar in the small town of Bolivar, Missouri.
  • There is a statue of Bolivar in the city of San Salvador, El Salvador.
  • There is a bust of Simón Bolívar in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Spain.
  • There is a bust of Simón Bolívar in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.
  • There is a bust of Simón Bolívar in Garachico, Tenerife, Spain.
  • There is a statue of Bolivar in the city of Bucharest, Romania.
  • There is a statue of Bolivar in the city of New York
  • There is a monument to the Venezuelan general, the "Liberator of Latin America" in Plaza Bolivar, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama.
  • There is an Equestrian statue of Bolivar at the UN Civic Center, San Francisco Plaza, California USA.
  • There is a large bronze equestrian statue of Simon Bolivar at the Avenida Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins in Santiago, Chile. The first Simon Bolivar monument in Latin America and the Caribbean area is at the Plaza de Armas of same city since 1836.[45]
  • The school "СОУ Симон Боливар".  in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, is named in his honor.

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ "Por las venas del libertador corría sangre guanche, en efecto, su abuela materna, doña Francisca Blanco de Herrera, descendía de san martines, era nieta de Juana Gutiérrez, de "nación guanche", y procedía además de otras familias canarias establecidas en Venezuela, tales como las de Blanco, Ponte, Herrera, Saavedra, Peraza, Ascanio y Guerra" ("Through the Liberator's veins ran Guanche blood. In fact his maternal grandmother, Francisca Blanco de Herrera, was a descendant of the original Canarian people, as she was the granddaughter of Juana Gutiérrez, of "the Guanche nation", and also came from other Canarian families established in Venezuela, such as Blanco, Ponte, Herrera, Saavedra, Peraza, Ascanio and Guerra. "). Hernández García, Julio: Book "Canarias – América: El orgullo de ser canario en América" (Canarias – America: The pride of being a Canario in America). First edition, 1989. Historia Popular de Canarias (Popular History of the Canary Islands).
  2. ^ For a fuller discussion of the evolution of the cult of Bolívar, see Carrera Damas, El culto a Bolívar.


  1. ^ Museo Simon Bolivar, Cenarruza-Puebla de Bolívar, Spain.
  2. ^ "Simón Bolívar". 
  3. ^ "". 14 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  4. ^ Slatta & de Grummond 2003, pp. 10–11.
  5. ^ Masur 1969, pp. 21–22.
  6. ^ Thornton 1998, p. 277.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Arana, M., 2013, Bolivar, New York: Simon & Schuster, ISBN 9781439110195
  8. ^ a b Arismendi Posada 1983, p. 9.
  9. ^ a b c d e Arismendi Posada 1983, p. 10.
  10. ^ Lynch 2007, p. 16.
  11. ^ Crow (1992:431).
  12. ^ Masur (1969), 98-102; and Lynch, Bolívar: A Life, 60-63.
  13. ^ a b Bushnell, David. The Liberator, Simón Bolívar. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970. Print.
  14. ^ Simón Bolívar has been indirectly saved his French friend Benoît Chassériau who December 10, 1815 a few hours before the assassination attempt, visited him and gave him money to seek alternative accommodation. Thus, the Liberator left the room where José Antonio Páez had slept for several nights and depended on the guesthouse Rafael Pisce at the corner of Prince and White streets. The same night, Pio the servant of Bolivar and Paez plunged his murderous knife into the neck of Captain Felix Amestoy, thinking it was the Liberator. References: 1) in ‘Bolívar y los emigrados patriotas en el Caribe (Trinidad, Curazao, San Thomas, Jamaica, Haití)’ - By Paul Verna – Edition INCE, 1983; 2) in ‘Simón Bolívar: Ensayo de interpretación biográfica a través de sus documentos’ - By Tomás Polanco Alcántara - Edition Academia Nacional de la Historia, 1994 - Page 505; 3) in ‘Petión y Bolívar: una etapa decisiva en la emancipación de Hispanoamérica, 1790-1830’ - Colección Bicentenario - By Paul Verna - Ediciones de la Presidencia de la República, 1980 - Page 131
  15. ^ Batallas de Venezuela: 1810–1824. p124. Edgar Esteves González
  16. ^ Petre 1910, p. 381–382.
  17. ^ a b Bushnell, David (1954) The Santander Regime in Gran Colombia
  18. ^ a b Bolívar, Simón (1983). Hope of the universe (print ed.). Paris: UNESCO. 
  19. ^ Arismendi Posada 1983, p. 19.
  20. ^ Simón Bolívar entry on Find a
  21. ^ BBC, Grant 5 July 2010.
  22. ^ Forero, Juan (23 February 2008). "Chávez, Assailed on Many Fronts, Is Riveted by 19th-Century Idol". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  23. ^ "Bolivar and Chavez a Worthy Comparison".  
  24. ^ "Doctors Reconsider Health and Death of 'El Libertador,' General Who Freed South America".  
  25. ^ Allen, Nick (7 May 2010). "Simon Bolivar died of arsenic poisoning". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  26. ^ James, Ian (16 July 2010). "Venezuela opens Bolivar's tomb to examine remains". MSNBC. Retrieved 16 July 2010. 
  27. ^ Girish Gupta (2011-07-26). "Venezuela unable to determine cause of Bolivar's death". Retrieved 2013-06-29. 
  28. ^ Lynch 2006.
  29. ^ Slatta, Richard W. Simón Bolívar's Quest for Glory. Texas A&M University Press, 2003. Print.
  30. ^ Peru de Lacroix, Luis (2009). Diario de Bucaramanga (print ed.). Caracas:  
  31. ^ a b   First published in the New American Cyclopedia, Vol. III, 1858.
  32. ^ Beddow, D. Méndez; Thibodeaux, Sam J. (2010). Gangrillas : the unspoken pros and cons of legalizing drugs. [U.S.]: Trafford On Demand Pub. p. 29.  
  33. ^ De-Sola Ricardo, Irma, "Bolívar Palacios, Juana" in Diccionario de Historia de Venezuela, Vol. 1. Caracas: Fundación Polar, 1999. ISBN 978-980-6397-37-8 also reproduced in Simón Bolí, Biografías Familiares de Simón Bolívar at Simón Bolívar, el hombre.
  34. ^ De-Sola Ricardo, Irma, "Bolívar Palacios, María Antonia" in Diccionario de Historia de Venezuela, Vol. 1. reproduced in Simón Bolí, Biografías Familiares de Simón Bolíbar.
  35. ^ Fuentes Carvallo, Rafael, "Bolívar, Fernando Simón" in Diccionario de Historia de Venezuela, Vol. 1. reproduced in [1].
  36. ^ Bushnell & Langley 2008.
  37. ^ Bushnell & Langley 2008, p. 100.
  38. ^ Bushnell & Langley 2008, p. 136.
  39. ^ Lynch 2006, p. 33.
  40. ^ Martinez, Carlos Antonio, Jr. "Simon Bolivar, Liberator & Freemason". Masons of California. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  41. ^
  42. ^ Martin, Stephen (5 October 2009). "Hugo Chavez presents Simon Bolivar". VenezuelAnalysis. Retrieved 2012-04-09.  Halvorssen, Thor (25 July 2010). "Behind exhumation of Simon Bolivar is Hugo Chavez's warped obsession". The Washington Post. 
  43. ^ Lynch 2006, p. 299–304.
  44. ^ "Central Park Monuments - Simon Bolivar Monument : NYC Parks". Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  45. ^ "Simon Bolivar Monument at Santiago : NYC Parks". Retrieved 2014-02-11. 

Cited sources

  • Arismendi Posada, Ignacio (1983). Gobernantes Colombianos [Colombian Presidents] (second ed.). Bogotá, Colombia: Interprint Editors Ltd.; Italgraf. 
  • Bushnell, David; Langley, Lester D. (2008). Simón Bolívar: Essays on the Life and Legacy of the Liberator. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.  
  • Grant, Will (5 July 2010). "Venezuela honours Simón Bolívar's lover Manuela Saenz". BBC. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  • Lynch, John (2006). Simón Bolívar: A Life. Yale University Press.  
  • Lynch, John (5 July 2007). Simón Bolívar: A Life. Yale University Press.  
  • Masur, Gerhard (1969). Simón Bolívar (Revised ed.). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 
  • Petre, Francis Loraine (1910). Simon Bolivar "El libertador": a life of the chief leader in the revolt against Spain in Venezuela, New Granada & Peru. J. Lane. 
  • Slatta, Richard W.; de Grummond, Jane Lucas (2003). Simón Bolívar's Quest for Glory. Texas A&M University Press.  
  • Thornton, John Kelly (28 April 1998). Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400–1800. Cambridge University Press.  

Further reading

  • Arana, Marie. Bolivar: American Liberator. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013.
  • Reza, German de la. "La invención de la paz. De la república cristiana del duque de Sully a la sociedad de naciones de Simón Bolívar", México, Siglo XXI Editores, 2009. ISBN 978-607-03-0054-7
  • Bushnell, David. The Liberator, Simón Bolívar. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970.
  • Bushnell, David (ed.) and Fornoff, Fred (tr.), El Libertador: Writings of Simón Bolívar, Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0-19-514481-9
  • Bushnell, David and Macaulay, Neill. The Emergence of Latin America in the Nineteenth Century (Second edition). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0-19-508402-3
  • Ducoudray Holstein, H.L.V. Memoirs of Simón Bolívar. Boston: Goodrich, 1829.
  • Harvey, Robert. "Liberators: Latin America's Struggle For Independence, 1810–1830". John Murray, London (2000). ISBN 978-0-7195-5566-4
  • Higgins, James (editor). The Emancipation of Peru: British Eyewitness Accounts, 2014. Online at https:/
  • Lynch, John. Simón Bolívar and the Age of Revolution. London: University of London Institute of Latin American Studies, 1983. ISBN 978-0-901145-54-3
  • Ludwig, Emil. "Bolivar: The Life of an Idealist," Alliance Book Corporation, New York, 1942.
  • Lynch, John. The Spanish American Revolutions, 1808–1826 (Second edition). New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1986. ISBN 978-0-393-95537-8
  • Madariaga, Salvador de. Bolívar. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1952. ISBN 978-0-313-22029-6
  • Marx, Karl. "Bolívar y Ponte" in The New American Cyclopaedia: A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge, Vol. III. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1858.
  • Mijares, Augusto. The Liberator. Caracas: North American Association of Venezuela, 1983.
  • O'Leary, Daniel Florencio. Bolívar and the War of Independence/Memorias del General Daniel Florencio O'Leary: Narración (Abridged version). Austin: University of Texas, [1888] 1970. ISBN 978-0-292-70047-5
  • Bastardo-Salcedo,JL (1993) Historia Fundamental de Venezuela UVC,Caracas.

External links

  • Simón Bolívar on In Our Time at the BBC. (listen now)
  • The Life of Simón Bolívar
  • The Louverture Project: Simón Bolívar – Information about the support Bolívar received from Haiti.
  • In Profile: Simón Bolívar – The Liberator
  • About the surname Bolíbar/Bolívar, in Spanish
  • Paternal ancestors of the Liberator, in Spanish
  • Coats of arms of the Bolíbars, in Spanish
  • Maternal ancestors of the Liberator (Palacios family), in Spanish
  • (Spanish) Biography
  • DemarquetEdecánBeside Bolivar: The – About C. E. Demarquet, one of Bolívar's principal aides
  • "Building a New History by Exhuming Bolívar" Simon Romero, The New York Times, 3 August 2010
  • "Bolivar: American Liberator" on YouTube Lecture by Marie Arana, The John W. Kluge Center, The Library of Congress, 6 June 2013
  • Simón Bolívar at Find a Grave
Political offices
Preceded by
Federation created
President of Colombia
17 December 1819 – 4 May 1830
Succeeded by
Domingo Caycedo
Preceded by
José Bernardo de Tagle
President of Peru
February 1824 – January 1826
Succeeded by
Andres de Santa Cruz
Preceded by
Republic created
President of Bolivia
Succeeded by
Antonio José de Sucre
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