Simon Bolivar, the Liberator
Guillermo A. Sherwell
Part 3 out of 3
to arrange for the establishment of a regency in Peru, awaiting the arrival
of a European prince to govern the country. He even appeared ready to go to
Spain, himself, to beg for a prince.
The viceroy established his residence in Cuzco, the old capital of the
Incas, and the Spanish officers obtained several partial victories.
The defeats of the independent forces brought about the dissolution of a
_junta_ which had taken charge of the government. At that time, Bolivar
decided to intervene to help Peru gain her independence. He decided to send
3,000 men at once and to follow himself with 3,000 more to undertake this
last part of his important work. As we have said, his decision in this
matter was based, among other things, on the realization that the freedom
of Colombia was in constant danger while the royalists occupied Peru. While
making preparations for the campaign, he received news from Santander,
the vice-president of Colombia, that the Spanish general, Morales, was
advancing from Merida to Cucuta with a powerful army. He decided to send
Sucre to Lima to handle the situation there and to go, himself, to Bogota
to defend his own country. He would have been unable to go to Lima
immediately anyway, for he had not yet obtained permission from the
Colombian government to do so. On his way to Bogota he learned that the
reports of the movements of Morales were very much exaggerated and that his
forces were not so large as at first thought. Meanwhile, the Peruvians were
insisting that Bolivar come to assist them, and the Constitutional Congress
of Peru even instructed the President to ask the Libertador Presidente to
inform his home government that the government of Peru ardently besought
him to lend his assistance. Aware of the inefficient organization of the
Peruvian forces, Bolivar strongly advised that attacks should not be made
at once in order to see whether negotiations could bring about the desired
results, or to allow time in which to improve the condition of the army.
He argued that no movement should be made until it was certain that
independence could be gained only through the success of arms.
While Bolivar was still undecided, a powerful royalist army approached
Lima, and the insurgents had to leave the capital and take shelter in the
near-by port of Callao. Sucre, to whom the command of the united army
had been offered, but who had not accepted this commission, directed the
retreat. In Callao he assumed power, organized the insurgents of the city,
and undertook other military operations. The royalists remained in Lima for
a short while only, and then their opponents reoccupied the city.
Once more Bolivar was obliged to leave Guayaquil, this time to go to Quito
to defend the city against the _pastusos_, who had again rebelled. After
punishing them, he sent men to the city of Pasto to finish the work of
pacification, and he returned to Guayaquil in January, 1823, where he was
met by a commission sent from Peru to insist upon his taking command of the
Peruvians. Upon receipt of authorization from the Colombian government,
he proceeded to Callao, where he arrived on the first of September, 1823.
Congress conferred upon Bolivar the title of Libertador, and placed in his
hands supreme military authority over all the forces of the country. In
order to insure close cooeperation between the civil administration and the
military operations, he was vested with political and executive authority.
Bolivar accepted these powers with great modesty, and remarked:
"I do for Peru more than my ability permits, because I count upon the
efforts of my generous fellows-in-arms. The wisdom of Congress will
give me light in the midst of the chaos, difficulties and dangers in
which I see myself.... I left the capital of Colombia, avoiding
the responsibilities of civil government. My repugnance to work in
governmental affairs is beyond all exaggeration, so I have resigned
forever from civil power so far as it is not closely connected with
military operations. The Congress of Peru may count, nevertheless
on all the strength of Colombian arms to give the country unlimited
freedom. By protecting national representation I have done for Peru the
greatest service a man could do for a nation."
There were elaborate festivities in honor of Bolivar, and his moderation,
as well as his other personal qualifications, was recognized and admired.
General O'Higgins of Chile was present on that occasion. At one of the
banquets, Bolivar proposed a toast voicing the hope that the children of
America might never see a throne raised in any of its territories, and
that, as Napoleon was exiled in the middle of the ocean, and the new
emperor, Iturbide, thrown out of Mexico, all usurpers of the rights of the
people might fall, and that not one of them might remain throughout the New
Bolivar had many difficulties to overcome in the work of organizing the
elements of the country for the final struggle. Peruvians had not been
hardened by constant fighting as had Venezuelans and New Granadians, and
although they were patriotic and anxious to obtain their freedom, yet they
lacked the ardor that only Bolivar knew how to kindle in men's hearts. He
decided to hasten the advance of the Colombian reinforcements, knowing that
he could trust them to form a strong nucleus around which he could organize
the Peruvian campaign. In the midst of his incessant work, he would say:
"We must conquer or die! And we will conquer, for Heaven does not want
us in chains."
In January, 1824, Bolivar became very ill with fever. Before he had fully
recovered he began to direct the preparations for the campaign, and while
convalescing displayed remarkable energy in his work. At times, though,
he showed some signs of discouragement. He had already said he felt that
his energy was diminishing, and in a letter to General Sucre he wrote:
"I am ready to meet the Spaniards in a battle to end war in America,
but nothing more. I feel tired, I am old, and I have nothing to
He had something to expect: the last and final victories, and then the
ingratitude of his fellow citizens. Perhaps at that time he was beginning
to feel the advances of the illness which caused his death.
[Footnote 1: When he was still very weak, sitting ghost-like in an
armchair, his friend don Joaquin Mosquera, who had been his ambassador to
the countries of the South, asked him, "And now, what are you going to do?"
"To conquer," answered Bolivar.]
[Footnote 2: Tuberculosis.]
Then an event occurred which almost destroyed all of Bolivar's well-made
plans. Some troops sent from the River Plata started a rebellion in Callao,
and, before anything could be done to correct the situation, the Spanish
flag was hoisted over the fortress and messages had been sent to the
viceroy offering to deliver the city. Laserna sent General Rodil,
appointing him governor and military commander of the province of Lima, and
placing him in full command of the fortress and the treacherous soldiers.
This was a severe loss for the Republican cause. Congress at once suspended
the constitution and the law and appointed Bolivar dictator, for it
realized that he was the only man to cope with the situation. The royalist
army had 18,000 men, 12,000 to fight Bolivar, who was then in the city
of Trujillo, and 6,000 to keep Upper Peru (now Bolivia) and the southern
coast, subject to Spain. Bolivar had from 4,000 to 6,000 Colombians and
about 4,000 Peruvians, all in poor condition. He gathered all the resources
available in Lima, but desertion and treachery had left very little of use.
At that time, to be disloyal was a fashionable thing for the insurgents of
Lima. However, Bolivar would not despair. In a letter written at that time,
"This year will not come to a close without our having gained Potosi."
His chief hope had been in the army of Colombia; but, while in Trujillo,
he learned that the government of Colombia would not send any troops or
resources without express authorization from Congress, which meant a long
delay. Meanwhile, the Spaniards under command of Canterac were advancing
against Trujillo. Bolivar set to work again with that feverish activity
which seemed to enable him to create everything from nothing--men,
uniforms, arms, horses, even horseshoes. The smallest detail, near or at a
distance, was the object of his care, and he attended to everything with
that precision and accuracy which form a great proportion of what we call
The city of Pasco was selected by Bolivar as the meeting place of all the
independent forces, and the month of May chosen for the general movement.
In June the Andes were crossed, and on August 2nd, the army was assembled
on the plain of Sacramento, near Pasco. There he arranged his soldiers for
battle and decided to attack on the 6th the royalists, who were near
by. Canterac was approaching with an army of 9,000 of which 2,000 were
On August 6, 1824, at four o'clock in the afternoon, the two armies met on
the plain of Junin, near the lake of that name, the source of the Amazonas.
This battle was one of cavalry only, and was in appearance and in results
one of the most terrible. Throughout the whole combat not one shot was
fired. Only the horsemen fought, but the defeated royalist cavalry on
retreat, drew the infantry with them. The battle of Junin ranked in
importance with those of Boyaca, Carabobo and Bombona, as well as that of
Pichincha, and had a marked effect on the ultimate success of the Peruvian
campaign. The morale of the royalists was destroyed. Canterac, in his
retreat, was forced to cover 450 miles of very rough country, and lost a
large part of his army.
A festivity following this success was the occasion of generous words
exchanged between the victor of Bombona and the conqueror of Pichincha.
"Led by the Liberator, we can expect nothing but victory!"
to which Bolivar answered:
"To know that I will conquer, it is enough to know who are around me."
At another time, Bolivar reiterated his feelings in the following way:
"Let the valiant swords of those who surround me pierce my breast a
thousand times if at any time I oppress the countries I now lead to
freedom! Let the authority of the people be the only existing power on
earth! Let the name of tyranny be obliterated from the language of the
world and even forgotten!"
Bolivar then left the army in the command of Sucre and departed for the
seaboard to continue his work of organization.
The royalists had left Lima as soon as they learned of the defeat of Junin.
Rodil was in the fortress at Callao. The viceroy in Cuzco gathered all the
soldiers he could, forming an army of 11,000 men, and started out to avenge
the defeat of Junin.
On December 9, 1824, the two armies met on the plain of Ayacucho, and at
noon began the final battle of the Wars of Independence on the American
continent. At first the Spaniards had some success. Then General Cordova
of the army of Sucre, jumped from his horse, killed it with his sabre, and
exclaimed to his soldiers: "I do not want any means of escape. I am merely
keeping my sword to conquer. Forward, march of conquerors!" The royalists
could not resist Cordova. They put all their reserves into action, but the
soldiers of the independent army were determined to triumph, and Cordova,
himself, had the glory of taking the viceroy prisoner. It is said that in
the afternoon of that day the insurgents were fewer in number than their
prisoners. A capitulation was proposed and was accepted, Canterac signing
on account of the capture of the viceroy. The generals and officers
promised not to fight any more in the War of Independence nor to go to any
place occupied by royalists. Callao was included in the capitulation, but
Rodil did not accept.
Bolivar possessed the virtue of creating heroes by his side: Anzoategui in
Boyaca; Paez in Carabobo; Torres in Bombona; Sucre, commander-in-chief in
Pichincha and Ayacucho; and Cordova, under Sucre's command, in the last
fight for independence.
The War of Independence of Latin America began in Caracas on April 19,
1810, and ended in Ayacucho on December 9, 1824. Writing about this battle,
"The battle of Ayacucho is the greatest American glory and is
work of General Sucre. Its arrangement was perfect; its execution
superhuman. Swift and clever maneuvers destroyed in one hour the
victors of fourteen years, and an enemy perfectly organized and ably
He conferred the highest honors on Sucre, and bestowed the titles of Grand
Marshal and General, Liberator of Peru, on him. In a letter to Sucre, he
"The ninth of December, 1824, when you triumphed over the foe of
independence, will be remembered by countless generations, who will
always bless the patriot and warrior who made that day famous in the
annals of America. So long as Ayacucho is remembered, the name of Sucre
will be remembered. It will last forever."
The battle of Ayacucho practically put an end to the War of Independence of
America, which began with the battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775.
_Bolivia's Birth. Bolivar's Triumph. The Monarchical Idea. From Honors to
Immediately after Ayacucho, Bolivar ordered the cessation of conscription
and called a constitutional convention for February 8, 1825.
"The deplorable circumstances which forced Congress to create the
extraordinary office of dictatorship have disappeared," he said, "and
the Republic is now able to constitute and organize itself as it will."
Passing from national interests to his great idea of American union, he
issued a circular to all the governments of the continent to carry into
practice the assembly of plenipotentiaries of Latin America.
"It is now time," he wrote, "that the common interests uniting the
American republics had a fundamental basis to make permanent the
duration of their governments, if possible. The task of establishing
this system and affirming the power of this great political body must
rest upon that lofty authority which may direct the policies of our
governments and keep their principles of conduct uniform, an authority
whose name alone will calm our storms. So respectable an authority can
exist only in an assembly of plenipotentiaries, designated by each one
of our republics and united under the auspices of the victory obtained
by our armies against the Spanish government.... The day when our
plenipotentiaries exchange their powers will start an immortal epoch in
the diplomatic history of America. When, after one hundred centuries,
posterity seeks the beginning of our international law, it will
remember the agreements which affirmed its destiny and will gaze with
respect upon the conventions of the Isthmus. And then it will find the
plan of the first alliances showing the course of our relations with
the world. What will the Isthmus of Corinth then be, compared with the
Isthmus of Panama?"
Bolivar now sent his resignation to Colombia, stating that since he had
fulfilled his mission and there were no more enemies in America, it was
time to carry out his promise. At this very time he was beginning to be
attacked by his enemies as an ambitious man who desired monarchial power!
These attacks, it was clear to him, would become more numerous, and even
foreigners would take part in the abuses. But there does not now exist one
document which warrants a single accusation against Bolivar for immoderate
When the War of Independence had practically come to a close Rodil was
holding Callao, and Upper Peru was still in the hands of the Spanish. Sucre
undertook to remedy this situation while Bolivar attended to the convening
of the constitutional congress in Peru. The Liberator remarked how
dangerous it was "to put into the hands of any one man a monstrous
authority which could not be placed without danger into the hands of Apollo
himself." Speaking to the delegates he said he desired:
"to compliment the people because they have been freed of that which is
most dreadful in the world, war, through the victory of Ayacucho, and
despotism, through my resignation. Proscribe forever, I pray you, such
enormous authority, which was the doom of Rome. It was praiseworthy,
undoubtedly, for Congress, in order to pass through the abyss and face
terrific storms, to substitute the bayonets of the liberating
for its laws, but now that the country has secured domestic peace and
political freedom, it should permit no rule but the rule of law."
The Peruvians insisted that Bolivar should retain the power, and passed a
decree conferring it on him, without, however, calling him dictator, so as
to respect his will. On the same day a decree ordered several honors to be
paid him and also that one million pesos (about $1,000,000) be distributed
among the officers and soldiers of the liberating army, and that another
million pesos be placed in the hands of the Liberator as a token of
gratitude of the country.
Bolivar was very much moved, and, to a certain extent, hurt by this
pecuniary reward. He declined to accept in the following words:
"I have never wanted to accept, even from my own country, any reward of
this kind. It would be a monstrous incongruity if I should receive from
the hands of Peru that which I refused to receive from the hands of my
Congress finally asked Bolivar to take the million dollars and devote it to
charities in his own country and other parts of the republic of Colombia.
This Bolivar agreed to do.
Bolivar decided to remain in Peru until the convening of the following
congress, which was to assemble in 1826. He immediately bent all his energy
to the work of government, in which he was, if possible, more admirable
than he was as a soldier. Among the several measures of his administrative
work was the establishment of normal schools in the departments, tribunals
of justice, several educational institutions, mining bureaus, roads, public
charities and multitudinous other services.
On April 1, 1825, Sucre defeated the last Spanish troops in a place called
Upon the completion of his work, Bolivar started to visit Cuzco and Upper
Peru. In the city of Arequipa, on May 16, he issued a decree proclaiming
the republic of Alto (Upper) Peru. In Cuzco he was received in triumph. A
thousand ladies offered him a beautiful crown set with pearls and diamonds.
The Liberator received it and immediately sent it to Marshal Sucre, saying:
"He is the conqueror of Ayacucho and the true liberator of this
From Cuzco, Bolivar went to La Paz, and there he was received in like
manner. The assembly of Alto Peru sent representatives to meet him. The
country had received the name of Republica Bolivar (now Bolivia). From
there he went to Potosi, where he remained several weeks, accepting the
homage and gratitude of the people. There he received several members of
the diplomatic corps and a committee sent by the government of Buenos Aires
with the purpose of complimenting him for the services he had rendered to
the cause of South American independence which, as they said, Bolivar had
made secure forever.
He gave Bolivia its first political organization, applying his favorite
ideas about the distribution of powers. Here he repeated what he had done
everywhere when in command. He established educational institutions;
ordered that the rivers be examined in order to study the feasibility of
changing their courses so as to furnish water to arid and sterile areas;
distributed land among the Indians; suppressed the duties on mining
machinery; ordered the planting of trees, and showed in a thousand ways his
untiring energy, all the while keeping in active diplomatic correspondence
and in constant communication with his friends and civil officers, in order
to give instructions in detail. He issued orders from Chuquisaca to have
the Venezuelan soldiers sent back to their country from Peru. He even went
so far as to entertain thoughts of the independence of Cuba and Porto Rico.
In January, 1826, he left Chuquisaca for the coast and from there he sailed
for Peru, and a month later reached Lima, where he rendered an account of
what he had done in Upper Peru and in the South. By that time the last
stronghold of the Spaniards, Callao, had fallen into the hands of the
Venezuelan general, Bartolome Salom, a very distinguished officer who had
played a remarkable role under Bolivar during the War of Independence.
The resistance of Rodil in Callao is one of the best examples of Spanish
bravery. Rodil was a rough soldier, and often harsh and cruel in his
measures. In spite of hunger, illness and losses, he remained in Callao for
almost eleven months, not surrendering until January 23, 1826; he and
his men were the last representatives of the Spanish power to leave the
As soon as everything was well organized in Peru, Bolivar made ready to
return to Colombia. At that time some imprudent friends tried to convince
him that it was to the best interest of the now independent countries that
he should be made emperor of the Andes, which covered Colombia, Peru and
Bolivia. From Caracas, Paez proposed that he should return to Colombia and
set up a monarchy. Bolivar steadfastly refused to listen to any of these
seductions. To Paez he wrote:
"France had always been a kingdom. The Republican government
discredited itself and became more and more debased until it fell into
an abyss of hate. The ministers who led France were equally cruel and
inept. Napoleon was great, singular, and, besides that, extremely
ambitious. Nothing of the kind exists here. I am not Napoleon, no
I wish to be; neither do I want to imitate Caesar, and still less
Iturbide.... The magistrates of Colombia are neither Robespierre nor
Marat.... Colombia has never been a kingdom. A throne would produce
terror on account of its height as well as on account of its glamour."
To all his friends he declared his decided opposition to the monarchical
idea. In another letter, addressed to vice-president Santander, he wrote:
"I have fulfilled all my obligations, for I have done my duty as a
soldier, the only profession which I have followed since the first day
of the Republic.... I was not born to be a magistrate.... Even if a
soldier saves his country, he rarely proves a good executive.... You,
only, are a glorious exception to this rule."
One of the greatest rewards for his ambition, the one he valued the most
throughout the rest of his life, was received at that time. It consisted
of Washington's picture and a lock of his hair, sent as a present by
Washington's family from Mount Vernon through General Lafayette. In his
letter to Bolivar, Lafayette said:
"My religious and filial devotion to General Washington could not be
better recognized by his family than by honoring me with the commission
they have entrusted to me.... Of all men living, and even of all men in
history, Bolivar is the very one to whom my paternal friend w
have preferred to send this present. What else can I say to the great
citizen whom South America has honored with the name of Liberator,
confirmed in him by two worlds, a man endowed with an influence equal
to his self-denial, who carries in his heart the sole love of freedom
and of the republic?"
"There are no words with which I can express how my heart appreciates
this gift.... Washington's family honors me beyond my greatest hopes,
because Washington's gift presented by Lafayette is the crown of all
[Footnote 1: From that time until his death Bolivar preferred to any other
decoration, Washington's miniature picture, which often he wore on his
breast. Venezuela keeps with veneration this sacred relic in the _Museo
Boliviano_ of Caracas.]
While yet aglow with the great satisfaction he derived from this episode,
Bolivar was annoyed again by the movement to make him accept a crown.
Something still worse occurred at this time. In 1826 trouble broke out in
Venezuela because of the activities of Paez.
We have already mentioned that Venezuela was divided into three military
districts, governed by Bermudez, Marino and Paez. These three men had been
at times hostile to Bolivar, and, in order to satisfy their ambitions, he
had placed them in high commands. Paez was stationed in Caracas, where
his arbitrary rule was resented by the people. He intrigued against the
vice-president, Santander, executing his commands in such a way as to
produce ill-will, especially an order providing for the recruiting of
soldiers in Venezuela, which because of the manner of its execution, caused
much protest and resulted in complaints to the House of Representatives
against Paez. The House endorsed the accusation and submitted it to the
Senate, which suspended Paez from his post and summoned him to the capital.
Paez refused to appear, but at last was obliged to leave his command and
retire to Valencia as a private citizen. Once there, he instigated all
sorts of disturbances, and succeeded in creating an appearance of popular
clamor for his reinstatement in command of the department in order to avoid
anarchy. In this he was helped by his friends and partisans. A faction
asked him to accept the military command of the department, and Paez,
supported by the municipal council of Valencia, did so in disobedience to
Congress. He adopted the title of Military and Civil Chief of Venezuela. He
succeeded in enlisting the support of Marino, but not that of Bermudez, in
spite of all his flattering propositions. Thus started the endless chain of
civil revolutions in independent Latin America.
Santander wrote to the Libertador asking him to help save the country from
revolution. Paez also sent a communication to him, in which he complained
against vice-president Santander. Bolivar decided to return at once to his
country, but he met with strong opposition on the part of the Peruvian
authorities and people. After some hesitation, he concluded to return home,
thus ending the period which marks the height of his popularity. Soon his
glory was to be tarnished by ingratitude. He departed from Peru never to
return. "Whatever remains of that life is sorrow."
[Footnote 1: Bolivar--J.E. Rodo.]
On the way to his country, Bolivar found that the southern provinces of
Colombia wanted him to be dictator, but he declared that it was his desire
that the constitutional regime should continue. He sent a proclamation to
the Colombians, once more offering his services as a brother.
"I do not want to know," he said, "who is at fault. I have never
forgotten that you are my brothers-in-blood and my fellow soldiers....
Let there be no more Cundinamarca; let us all be Colombians, or death
will cover the deserts left by anarchy."
He crossed at the foot of the lofty Chimborazo and arrived in Quito, where
he was again received with rejoicing, as he had been in all the towns
on his way home; and again he was urged to assume dictatorship. This he
steadfastly refused to do. In the middle of November he arrived in Bogota,
where he exhorted the people to union and concord. He expressed much
satisfaction at the obedience to law on the part of the army, "because if
the armed force deliberates, freedom will be in danger, and the mighty
sacrifices of Colombia will be lost." For two days only he exercised the
executive power, but those days were sufficient to deepen the impression he
had left as a great organizer. He then continued on his way to Venezuela,
learning that Paez, who was openly opposed to the most cherished ideas
of Bolivar, had convoked a Venezuelan constitutional congress to meet in
Valencia on the 15th day of January, 1827. Appreciating the type of man
he was to face, Bolivar gathered a small army, to be prepared for
contingencies. On his way he learned that Puerto Cabello, which had
declared itself in favor of union, had been attacked by Paez and that
Venezuelan blood had been shed. Upon his arrival at Maracaibo, he published
a proclamation, resolved to make every effort at persuasion before
resorting to the sword. Paez had declared that Bolivar was coming to
Venezuela as a citizen to help with his advice and experience to perfect
the work of reform. From Coro, the Libertador wrote him, attempting to
convince him that his conduct was criminal and making him flattering offers
if he would desist. When the people of Caracas learned that Bolivar was
approaching, a reaction took place, to such an extent that Paez became
frightened. Some of the population openly declared themselves in Bolivar's
On the last day of 1826, Bolivar's mind passed through a crisis in an
effort to decide what steps would best reduce Paez to obedience, and, if
possible, avoid bloodshed. On the following day, the first of 1827, he
issued a decree, by virtue of his extraordinary powers, granting an
armistice to all those who had taken part in the so-called reform movement,
and ordering that his authority as President of the Republic be recognized
and obeyed. He also offered to convoke a national convention. Paez
hesitated no longer; he acknowledged the authority of Bolivar as President,
annulled the decree convoking a congress, and ordered that the President
should be honored in all the towns from Coro to Caracas. From Puerto
Cabello, Bolivar issued a beautiful proclamation in which he said:
"There are no longer any enemies at home.... Today peace triumphs....
Let us drown in the abyss of time the year 1826.... I have not known
what has happened. Colombians, forget whatever you know of the days of
Paez humiliated himself to the point of asking that he be tried, but
Bolivar would not permit it. He even praised Paez for his self-denial,
going so far in his generosity as to call him _savior of the country_. This
generosity was censured, especially by the people of Nueva Granada, and
was considered a weakness on the part of Bolivar. It was thought to be an
indication that he feared his authority would not be sufficiently strong
to carry him through the dangerous business of disciplining a man with
so large a following as Paez. But this was not so. Bolivar had, upon
the occasion of Piar's treachery, shown himself capable of decisive, if
difficult action; but his preference was always for justice tempered
with mercy. That he felt no weakening in personal power is shown by the
following incident: At a banquet where Paez and his partisans formed the
great majority of those present, a man started a debate which gave Bolivar
opportunity to make very energetic declarations, and even to utter the
"Here is no other authority and no other power than mine. Among all my
lieutenants I am like the sun; if they shine it is because of the light
I lend them."
Silence followed these words; everybody, including Paez, realized that
Bolivar could make himself respected whenever he wished.
His reception in Caracas surpassed any one that Bolivar had ever been
given. He could not walk because of the crowd. He had to listen to
addresses, hymns and eulogies, receive crowns, attend banquets and accept
all kinds of homage. His modesty was recognized by an inscription on one of
the banquet tables: "To conquer in the field of battle may be the work of
fortune; to conquer the pride of victory is the work of the conqueror."
Paez, who had been presented a sword by Bolivar, expressed his gratitude
in the warmest terms, and pledged himself to the service of his fellow
"I should rather die a hundred times," he said, "and lose every drop of
my blood than to permit this sword to leave my hand, or ever attempt to
shed the blood which up to now it has set free.... Bolivar's sword is
in my hands. For you and for him I shall go with it to eternity. This
oath is inviolable."
_The Convention of Ocana. Full Powers. An Attempt at Murder_
It was Bolivar's fortune to dispel the effect of evil with his presence,
but in his absence evil was certain to raise its head. While he triumphed
in Caracas, he was being severely criticised in Bogota, even by Santander.
His generosity with regard to Paez irritated the people of Nueva Granada to
When Congress convened, Bolivar tendered his resignation, as usual, but
this time he insisted still more. "For fourteen years," he wrote, "I have
been Supreme Chief and President of the Republic. Danger forced me to
accept this duty. Now that the danger has passed, I may retire to enjoy
private life." The rest of his communication evidenced the sincerity of
his desires and his modesty. He finished with these words: "I implore of
Congress and of the people the grace to be permitted to resume my simple
In spite of the resignation, intrigues continued in Nueva Granada, and
the separatist feeling grew stronger and stronger in that country and in
Venezuela. Through the separation of Nueva Granada, Bolivar's enemies in
that nation saw a way to get rid of him without displaying their enmity,
since, being a citizen of Venezuela, Bolivar could not be president of
Nueva Granada. Paez and his partisans, on their side, did not want to have
Santander in authority, because Santander was not a native of Venezuela.
The situation was made more complicated and more serious by a rebellion
in Lima, followed by another in Guayaquil. Notwithstanding that his
resignation had been tendered, Bolivar, considering that the union of
Colombia was threatened, immediately started for Bogota, to take the
situation in hand. He resolved to sacrifice everything to prevent anarchy
from taking the place of freedom and mutiny from taking the place of law.
He left Caracas, his native city, and here again he was taking a last
farewell. In July he was in Cartagena, where the people received him with
genuine affection. He recalled that it was from here he had begun his first
quixotic expedition to his country in 1812. Fifteen years had elapsed since
then, and he was again in Cartagena, his great work of redemption fulfilled
but now in danger of being destroyed.
The steps taken by the Liberator to organize the attack against the
revolutionists were described by Santander and his followers as steps to
destroy the country and its political freedom. It was publicly proposed
that Nueva Granada should declare null the fundamental convention providing
for the union of the country with Venezuela. Santander was ready to begin
the work of resistance. He was persuaded to be prudent, but not before he
had given vent to his immoderate anger in ignoble expressions. He went so
far as to state that war should be declared against Bolivar, for, if they
were to be deprived of public liberty, it would have been better, he said,
to remain under Spain. Morillo was to him preferable to Bolivar.
Bolivar advanced towards Bogota. Santander endeavored to stop him, sending
him word that the army was not necessary since constitutional order had
been reestablished in Guayaquil. Bolivar knew better, and continued his
advance. On the 10th day of September he arrived in Bogota, was received by
the Congress, took the oath of office and delivered an address in which he
offered to govern according to the constitution, in order to keep Colombia
free and united until the meeting of the national convention. Santander
greeted Bolivar formally. They had a long conversation in which the
Liberator showed unbounded generosity.
Congress had entire confidence in Bolivar. It approved all the steps he had
taken and gave him powers to execute other measures seemingly necessary to
the life of the Republic. It also issued a communication providing for a
general convention in the city of Ocana on the 2nd of March, 1828. This
convention was the last hope for the reestablishment of the Republic.
Bolivar recommended that, in the election of representatives, the people
select honorable men, possessed of intense patriotism and devotion to the
independence, union and freedom of Colombia. He sent a request to Guayaquil
not to leave the Union, and he had the satisfaction of learning that a
counter revolution had put an end to the work of secession in that section
of the country. Other minor movements were soon defeated and an alarm over
a reported Spanish invasion subsided.
The convention took place in Ocana, and after the work of preparation it
formally inaugurated its work on April 9th. Among its members were some of
Bolivar's most bitter enemies, some of his closest friends and a group
of so-called independents who were ready to swing to either side. The
convention proved a field of discord and of disgraceful disputes. Bolivar
experienced keen anguish at the thought of the inevitable results of the
meeting of that ill-advised group of men, and feared that it would lead
to anarchy. He sent a message in which he exhorted the convention to save
Colombia from ruin and to give it security and tranquility. He demanded a
firm, powerful and just government to indemnify her for the loss of 500,000
men killed in the field of battle.
"Give us a government under which law is obeyed, the magistrate is
respected, and the people are free; a government which can prevent the
transgression of the general will and of the people's commands ... In
the name of Colombia, I pray you to give us for the people, for the
army, for the judge and for the magistrate an inexorable government."
Bolivar knew that in his appeals for a strong government his enemies would
see, or pretend to see, personal ambitions, and Santander, of course,
immediately exploited this feeling against him. But Bolivar, who had proved
his disinterestedness when he might have had anything he desired, made no
effort, at this time, when he was trying to rescue his country from grave
danger, to show that he was not ambitious.
A large number of petitions were received by the general assembly,
requesting that Bolivar continue in control of the government "as the only
man who, because of his talents, his exceptional services and his powerful
influence, can keep Colombia united and tranquil." But the convention
was agitated by opposing feelings and influences. The federal system was
proposed, but it was not accepted, although the proposal was greeted with
joy by the enemies of the Liberator.
Bolivar, at about this time, wrote to a friend:
"If the constitution to be adopted in Ocana is not suitable to the
situation in which I see Colombia, I shall abandon at once a government
of which I am tired at heart."
And to his sister he wrote:
"I have decided to leave for Venezuela, and I want you to know this,
warning you that I absolutely do not want you, on your account or on
mine, to incur the least expense, for you well know how poor I am."
And this was the man who had been born wealthy, who had declined to accept
a million dollars from Peru, who gave his salary to the needy, who could
have had all life can give, but who renounced all to devote himself to his
When the constitution was drafted, Bolivar found that it was going to be
contrary to his desires, and he made ready to return to Venezuela, but
was persuaded by the insistence of his friends to remain. At last, they,
fearing the oppression of Santander and his followers, left Congress. This
destroyed the quorum, as other representatives had already resigned.
On June 11th, they issued a proclamation explaining the failure of the
Congress, attributing it to the oppression by a party which desired a
constitution unsuited to Colombia, and which overlooked the real facts of
the situation; and declared that the legal status of the country was as
"The constitution of the year 1811 is in full vigor; the laws are in
force, and at the head of the government is the Libertador Presidente,
who has the confidence of the nation."
When Bolivar was informed that the convention had adjourned, he wanted to
return to the capital and withdraw from public life. This would have meant
civil war with no man powerful enough to put an end to it. In the emergency
an assembly of respectable persons met in Bogota and established a _Junta_,
asking Bolivar to resume power and to hasten to the capital to handle the
situation. Bolivar had nothing to do but to obey; it was a matter of his
own conscience, even more than of the demands of the people.
He had full power in governmental matters, but he decided to exercise it
with due consultation and only during the crisis through which Colombia was
passing. Bogota received him with unusual enthusiasm. He declared publicly
that he would always be the champion of public liberty.
"When the people want to deprive me of the power and separate me from the
command, I shall gladly submit to their will and will surrender to them my
sword, my blood and my life. That is the sacred oath I utter before all the
principal magistrates, and what is more, before all the people."
In truth, he used his powers with great prudence, and devoted his time
especially to the reorganization of the army and the extinction of
privateering, ordering that no more licenses should be issued and that
those in force should be recalled.
Memorials to him were drafted in every part of Nueva Granada, and even the
smallest villages showed their unanimous wish that Bolivar should take the
situation in hand and save the country. Guayaquil and Venezuela did the
same. It seemed that everything was settled and that peace was to last
forever. Bolivar did not use the name of Dictator nor that of Supreme
Chief, but the one given to him by law, _Libertador Presidente_. He
regulated his own powers, created a council of state, ordered that all
guarantees granted by the constitution of Cucuta be respected, and offered
to convoke the national representation for January 2, 1830, to establish
at last the constitution of the Republic. In papers concerning the
constitution, he expressed disgust for dictatorship.
"Under a dictatorship, who can speak of freedom?" he said. "Let us feel
mutual compassion for the people who obey and for the man who commands
He was as generous as ever with his enemies. Santander was appointed
minister of Colombia in Washington; and in the appointment of the members
of his council of state, Bolivar did not hesitate to include men who had
not shown the least friendship for him, if their intellectual achievements
or their patriotic work warranted the distinction.
Santander repaid Bolivar's kindness by fostering a plot against his life.
On the 25th of September, Bolivar's palace was attacked by a group of
conspirators whose object was to murder him. They took the guard by
surprise, wounding and killing several of its members, and started towards
Bolivar's room. The Liberator intended to fight, but was persuaded that it
would be foolhardy; so he jumped through the window to the street and hid
for a while. The conspirators, crying, "Death to the tyrant and long life
to General Santander and the constitution of Cucuta," went in pursuit of
him. Colonel William Ferguson, the Liberator's Irish aide-de-camp, seeking
his chief in order to defend him, was killed. Other men were also murdered.
The garrison was made ready and went to the palace. Finding it abandoned
by the conspirators, it assembled in the principal square of the city
and prepared to defend Bogota. There was fighting in several sections,
accompanied by much sorrow, for it was believed that Bolivar had been
killed. Bolivar had not been killed, but he would have preferred death to
the torture which he experienced at this reward of his eighteen years
of service in the interest of his country. Seeing some soldiers pass
discussing the defeat of the mutineers, Bolivar joined them and soon
presented himself to the garrison, who received him with tears of joy.
To make a show of energy, he published a decree declaring that he would
assume the powers given to him by the people and would use them according
to circumstances; but this event had depressed him more than anything in
his life. "I have really been murdered," he said. "The daggers have entered
here in my heart. Is this the reward for my services to Colombia and to
the independence of America? How have I offended freedom and those men?
Santander has caused all this; but I will be generous."
Several of the conspirators were sentenced to die, among them Santander,
but Bolivar changed the penalty to banishment from the country. Santander
always contended that the sentence of death had been unjust. The worst
punishment that might have fallen upon the would-be-murderers was the
unanimous condemnation of all the people.
_Difficulties with Peru. Slander and Honors. On the Road to Calvary_
The wound received by Bolivar's heart had no possible cure. His physical
condition was getting worse and worse from day to day, but he had to remain
in power. Serious dangers threatened the country. In Bolivia, Sucre, a
victim of the conspiracy of Peruvians, had been wounded and forced to leave
the country where he had been in command, but not without showing his
generosity in a message to the Bolivian Congress, in which he said:
"Although through foreign instigations I carry broken the arm w
in Ayacucho put an end to the war of American Independence, which
destroyed the chains of Peru and gave birth to Bolivia, I am comforted,
feeling in these difficult circumstances that my conscience is
of any guilt.... My Government has been distinguished by clemency,
tolerance and kindness."
All of this was the naked truth. Peru had invaded Bolivia and had attacked
Colombia. Bolivar immediately organized an expedition, under the command of
General Jose Maria Cordova,--who distinguished himself in Ayacucho,--and
he, himself, prepared to go immediately. After attending to several matters
of an administrative character, he started towards the South, in spite of
declining health. It was torture for him to ride on horseback. He knew that
little of life remained for him, and still he was going to give his last
days to the service of his country. He did not seek revenge on his enemies
then in power in Peru. He only wanted to defend the integrity of Colombia
against the foreign invader.
As was his custom, he tried first to settle all difficulties through
negotiation. His aide-de-camp, Colonel O'Leary, was sent to offer the
Liberator's friendship to Peru, but the Peruvian Government did not deign
even to answer O'Leary's communication. In January, 1829, the Peruvians
obtained some success; they occupied Guayaquil and other places with an
army of over 8,000 men well organized, while the Colombians numbered only
6,000 men, poorly equipped, but commanded by the greatest of all South
American generals after Bolivar,--Sucre, who was able to inflict two
defeats on the enemy during the month of February, and, after his final
victory, offered a capitulation, which was accepted by the enemy, with
the stipulation that the boundaries between Peru and Colombia were to
be settled by a special commission, and that neither of the contracting
parties would intervene in the domestic affairs of the other. The city
of Guayaquil was to be surrendered to Colombia. The Peruvian army was
commanded by La Mar, head of the anti-Colombian party of Peru.
The inhabitants of Pasto had again rebelled against Colombia, but they were
subdued without bloodshed. Upon receiving their submission, Bolivar went to
Quito, where, after long separation, he met Sucre, and found in the loyal
friendship of the Great Marshal of Ayacucho some comfort in the midst of
all the bitterness which filled his soul. On that occasion, for the first
time, Bolivar's facility and felicity of language failed him, and his tears
were the only expression of his feelings. He received in Quito a manifesto
issued by Paez regarding the murderous attempt of the 25th of September,
once more protesting that he was loyal to Bolivar. Again mentioning the
sword that his illustrious chief had given him, he said: "In my hands it
will always be Bolivar's sword, not my own; let his will direct it and my
arm will carry it."
La Mar, on trivial pretexts, did not surrender the city of Guayaquil, but
undertook the reorganization and enlargement of his army. Bolivar prepared
himself for new struggles, while in private he did his best to have the
capitulation fulfilled. Advancing to Guayaquil, he succeeded in recovering
without a single shot the land lost by Colombia, for La Mar had become
unpopular in Peru on account of this war and was deprived of his command
and expelled from the country. Immediately after his banishment public
feeling in Peru expressed itself freely in favor of Colombia and a friendly
arrangement was very easy. La Mar died soon after in exile, forgotten by
In Guayaquil, Bolivar's life was in great danger because of very serious
illness, and his soul was sick of the unjust attacks by his enemies. In
1815 the Duke of Manchester, governor of Jamaica, had said of him that _the
flame had consumed the oil_, but at this time it was really true. Yet on
August 31st, while barely convalescing, he plunged again into activity
by issuing a famous circular asking the people to express their opinions
freely on the form of government and on the constitution to be adopted by
the next constitutional congress. After recovering from that illness he
went to Quito, where he worked in the reorganization of the southern
departments, and at the end of October he left for Bogota.
Then another man added his bit to the work of Bolivar's enemies. Cordova,
tempted by ambition, and believing in the necessity for the separation of
New Granada from Venezuela, claimed that, since Bolivar was getting old and
had very few days to live, he should be deprived of the command. He tried
to form a combination with Paez, Marino and others. Bolivar knew of his
actions and talked to him in an attempt to win back his friendship.
He thought that so distinguished a general would hesitate much before
smirching his glory with ingratitude; but at the bottom of his heart this
wound, added to the others he had received, pushed him a little farther
towards his premature end. Cordova finally raised the flag of insurrection,
based on the Constitution of Cucuta, calling Bolivar the tyrant of the
country. He and his improvised army were destroyed by O'Leary, and he was
fatally wounded on the field of battle. He was young, rich and endowed with
great powers of attraction; he was brave and clever, and his disloyalty and
insurrection form one of the saddest episodes of this part of the history
It may have been of some comfort to Bolivar that at that time a special
envoy from France went to Bogota to express the esteem of his country for
the great man of the South. Addressing the Council of Ministers, the French
envoy, Bresson, voiced the hope of seeing Bolivar soon, and of
"expressing to him verbally to what extent Simon Bolivar's name is
honored among us. France admires in him not only that intrepidity and
celerity in enterprise, that vision and that constancy which are the
qualifications of a great general, but pays homage to his virtue
to his political talent, which are guaranty of independence and
order--the essentials of the freedom of the country, which has placed
her destiny in his hands."
Europe was unanimous in her admiration for Bolivar. In England they also
had the highest opinion of the American hero.
"It is impossible," wrote the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Dudley, in
March, 1828, to Campbell, British Charge d'Affaires in Colombia, "to
have observed the events which have occurred in Colombia and its
neighboring provinces since their separation from the mother country,
without being convinced that the merits and services of General Bolivar
entitle him to the gratitude of his fellow-citizens, and to the esteem
of foreign nations."
But this general feeling also gave foundation to slanderous affirmations
that Bolivar wanted to make himself king. We have seen how untrue this
was. Bolivar had no other ambition than the freedom and the union of his
country,--Colombia, the child of his genius. For himself, he wanted only to
keep his honor untarnished and to pass his last days as a simple citizen.
During his stay in the South, the Council of Ministers started to work
for a monarchy. A letter was sent to him, not speaking openly of the
monarchical question, but dwelling on the restless condition of the
population and the need of preparing for the future. In answer, Bolivar
expressed his agreement and, knowing that he could not live much longer,
said that in order to avoid civil war with its terrible results, which he
expected to occur within ten years, it would be advisable to divide the
country by legal and peaceable means. He declared that he considered the
stability of the government impossible because of the hostility between
Venezuela and Nueva Granada. He pronounced himself against a foreign
monarch and said that, as for himself, he took it for granted that it was
understood that he was tired of serving and of suffering ingratitude and
attempts against his own life. He still insisted that, "in case no other
solution seems feasible, the best way out of the difficulty would be
a president for life, and a hereditary senate," as he had proposed in
Guayana. In a letter to O'Leary, he wrote:
"I cannot conceive of even the possibility of establishing a kingdom in
a country which is constitutionally democratic because the lo
and most numerous classes of the people want it to be so, with an
indisputable right, since legal equality is indispensable where there
is physical inequality, in order to correct to a certain extent the
injustice of nature. Besides, who can be a king in Colombia? Nobody,
for no foreign prince would accept a throne surrounded by danger and
misery, and the generals would consider it humiliating to subordinate
themselves to a comrade, and resign the supreme authority forever."
He wrote that the idea of monarchy was chimerical, and that it should
be discussed no more. In another letter he expressed his decision to
relinquish power, whether Congress met or not.
Bolivar arrived in Bogota on the 15th of January, 1830, and on the
20th Congress began its work under the presidency of Sucre. With the
inauguration of the Congress, Bolivar considered that his public duties
had ended, and in that sense he published an eloquent proclamation, which
closed with this supreme appeal:
"Fellow citizens, listen to my last words, at the end of my political
career. In the name of Colombia, I beg you, I pray you, always to
remain united so that you may not become the murderers of your country
and your own murderers."
In this proclamation he mentioned the fact that a crown had been offered
to him more than once, and that he had rejected the offers with the
indignation befitting a strong Republican. In his message to the Congress,
he offered to obey any person elected to occupy his place and to support
him with his sword and all his strength.
"The Republic will be happy," he said, "if, on accepting my
resignation, you appoint as President a citizen loved by the country.
She would succumb if you insisted that I command her.... Beginning
today I am nothing but a citizen, armed for the defense of my country
and for the obedience to her government. My public functions have ended
forever. I deliver unto you the supreme authority which the will of the
country conferred upon me."
The circular issued by Bolivar from Guayaquil on the 31st of August had
been received by Paez, who circulated it in Venezuela, and organized
demonstrations asking for the separation of Venezuela from Colombia. As the
union of Colombia had been Bolivar's greatest conception, he was attacked,
and in Valencia his ostracism was demanded. Paez was asked to prevent his
entering Venezuelan territory. Wherever Paez exercised any influence,
Bolivar's authority was denounced, and Paez was asked to assume the highest
authority of the country. Bolivar was insulted by the press of his own
nation, which called him a tyrant and a hypocrite, and insisted on his
banishment. At last Paez declared himself openly. He went to Caracas,
approved the rebellion of the capital against Bolivar, broke with him,
declared Venezuela a sovereign state, appointed a cabinet and convoked a
congress to meet in Valencia. He asked the people for subsidies for the
war against Bolivar, and at the same time wrote a letter to the Libertador
warning him not to oppose the will of the Venezuelans, who were ready, he
said, to deliver themselves to the Spaniards rather than to Bolivar.
The Congress of Colombia had asked Bolivar to remain in command, to
suppress anarchy, and to fulfil his promise that he would exercise power
until the constitution had been proclaimed and magistrates duly elected.
Bolivar accepted provisionally, and immediately tried to obtain a friendly
compromise with Venezuela. He wanted to have a personal interview with
Paez, but Paez declined. He had unsheathed the sword Bolivar had given him,
and the one he had sworn to carry according to the will of the Libertador.
The Congress of Colombia appointed a constitutional committee, and Bolivar
proposed that a peace mission be sent to Venezuela to make known the
intentions of the national representation, and to show the basis of the
constitution, in order to destroy any suspicions which might have been
conceived in Venezuela regarding this document. The mission was appointed,
one of its members being the illustrious General Sucre, President of the
Congress, another, its Vice-President. The Commissioners were asked to
inform the Venezuelan people that the future constitution was to be
entirely Republican, that the Congress hoped to obtain a friendly agreement
with Venezuela, and that the Congress was firmly decided to preserve the
principles of integrity of the Republic and unity of the government in the
new constitution; that all dissensions were to be forgotten and that all
existing differences would be settled in a friendly way. Sucre said very
frankly that, considering the state of affairs in Venezuela, he did not
expect favorable results. The basis of the constitution as finally adopted
"the republic should be unitary according to its fundamental law; the
government should be popular, representative and elected for terms of
eight years; the legislative power should be divided among the Senate,
the House of Representatives and the Executive; there was to be a
Council of State to help the President of the Republic, and this
Council should have no responsibility except in the case of treachery;
the Cabinet officers were to be responsible. Local legislatures
to be created to take care of local interests; individual rights were
[Footnote 1: Larrazabal--Vida de Bolivar. Vol. II (6th Edition), New York,
1883, p. 531.]
Bolivar showed his generosity again by pardoning those who were in exile
on account of the conspiracy of the 25th of September, and then asked
permission of the Congress to be relieved of his duties because of ill
health. Once obtaining permission, he went to a country place to recover.
He was never again to exercise the executive authority of Colombia. Using
his power, he appointed General Domingo Caicedo to take his place. He was
a very kindly and patriotic man and the best suited to mediate between the
The peace commission was not even received in Venezuelan territory, but had
to stay on the border to meet the delegates appointed by Paez, one of whom
was Marino. Claiming that Bolivar was oppressing Nueva Granada, Paez
had prepared himself for a campaign, not only to support the Venezuelan
Revolution but to deliver Nueva Granada from its so-called oppressor. The
real cause was simply his inordinate ambition. The conferences between the
two groups were fruitless, and the delegates of the Congress withdrew.
Meanwhile, Paez was issuing proclamation after proclamation against
Bolivar, who had to leave the country place where he was caring for his
health and go to Bogota to meet the new situation. He was asked to resume
the supreme command, but he knew that he was not strong enough for the
task. He consulted the Ministers and some friends, but nothing was decided.
Some members of the Congress wanted to elect him constitutional President;
these, however, were vehemently attacked by others. Many friends deserted
the Libertador, knowing perfectly well they had little to expect from a
life which was rapidly nearing the end. Bolivar saw all this, learned of
the intrigues of his enemies, and, convinced that the best thing he could
do was to withdraw not only from power but from the country he had loved so
dearly and for which he had done so much, he sent a message on the 27th of
April, 1830, to the Congress, in which he reiterated his decision not to
accept again the supreme power of the state.
"You must be assured," he said, "that the good of the country imposes
on me the sacrifice of leaving forever the land which gave me life
in order that my presence in Colombia may not be an obstacle to the
happiness of my fellow citizens."
Three days later, Congress answered, praising the patriotic
disinterestedness of Bolivar and protesting that the country would always
respect and venerate him, and take care that the luster of his name
should pass to posterity in a manner befitting the founder of Colombian
[Footnote 1: Upon the disruption of Colombia, Nueva Granada kept her old
name. Later she changed it to Colombia. It is necessary to bear in mind
that Colombia of today is only a part of Bolivar's Colombia.]
_Friends and Foes. Sucre's Assassination. The Lees of Bitterness. An
Upright Man's Death_
Bolivar prepared to go to Cartagena, where he intended to sail for Jamaica
or Europe. His melancholy was relieved by a message from Quito, in which
the most prominent citizens asked him to select as his residence that city,
where he was respected and admired. "Come," they said, "to live in our
hearts and to receive the homage of gratitude and respect due to the genius
of America, the Liberator of a world." The Bishop of Quito, Monsignor
Rafael Lasso, also sent a communication, in his own name and in the name of
the clergy, endorsing the petition. Bolivar did not accept this invitation.
On May third, the constitution of Colombia was signed, and on the following
day don Joaquin Mosquera and General Domingo Caicedo were elected President
and Vice-President of Colombia, respectively. Bolivar showed his pleasure
at the result, and uttered the following words:
"I am reduced to the private life which I have so much desired
if the Congress wants any special proof of my blind obedience to the
constitution and the laws, I am ready to give whatever may be asked."
He left the palace and went to live in a private residence. There he
received a delegation of the principal citizens of Bogota, who placed in
his hands a beautiful document containing the following words, especially
worthy of notice:
"You conquered the plane upon which our future happiness will be built
and, believing yourself to be an obstacle to that happiness, you resign
voluntarily the first authority, protesting never again to take the
reins of government. Such a noble, generous and magnanimous action
places you above heroes. History has its pages filled with the actions
of brave soldiers and fortunate warriors, but it can make them
beautiful only with the actions of a Washington or a Bolivar. In
private life, you will receive unmistakable proofs of our devotion to
your person. We shall always remember your merits and services, and we
shall teach our children to pronounce your name with tender emotions of
admiration and gratitude."
This document was signed on May 5, 1830, by Caicedo, the Vice-President, in
the exercise of the executive power, the Archbishop of Bogota, the members
of the Cabinet and 2,000 distinguished citizens. Three days later, Bolivar
left Bogota, accompanied for six miles by the members of the Cabinet, the
ministers of the diplomatic corps, many military men and citizens, and
almost all the members of the foreign colonies. The following day, Congress
passed a decree which is an honor to it and to Bolivar, by which homage of
gratitude and admiration was paid him in the name of Colombia, and it was
ordered that wherever Bolivar might choose to live he should be treated
always with the respect and consideration due the first and best citizen
of Colombia. In that same decree, it was ordered that a pension of 30,000
pesos per year, decreed to Bolivar in 1823, be punctually paid for life.
Among the many sad things which can be told of this man of sorrows, is the
fact that this pension was sorely needed. In March of that year he had been
forced to sell his silver, and even then did not have enough money to pay
for his trip.
On his way to the Caribbean, Bolivar received homage in all the towns
he entered. He advised everybody to respect the law and to obey the
government. Every day saw him poorer. His personal fortune in Venezuela had
been greatly diminished, and possessions left to him by his ancestors were
involved in litigation. Consequently, he could count on very little. He
had planned to sail from Cartagena, but was unable to do so. From there he
endeavored to secure some money from his relatives in Caracas, in which
effort he failed.
While in Cartagena he received news of several insurrections in favor of
the integrity of Colombia and of himself as head of the nation. Bolivar
refused to heed these calls, and continued his life of poverty, embittered
and saddened by the news received that Antonio Jose de Sucre, his beloved
friend and lieutenant, the hero of Pichincha and Ayacucho, had been
murdered on his way to Quito, on the 4th of June, while crossing a mountain
called Berruecos. It is difficult to conceive how Sucre could have had
enemies, he who was perhaps the purest and kindest figure of all the
American War of Independence, all generosity, forgiveness and benevolence.
He was riding alone when shot from an ambush. His orderly, who was at some
distance behind him, rushed to the scene only to find that Sucre was dead.
His corpse remained there that afternoon and all night. On the following
day the soldier buried him in the forest.
[Footnote 1: Sucre's body was lost for a long while. In the Pantheon of
Caracas there are three beautiful monuments: the one in the center contains
Bolivar's ashes; the one to the right, which we have already described, is
devoted to Miranda; the one to the left is devoted to Sucre, and contains
an expression of hope that some day Venezuela can pay homage to her great
son. The body of Sucre has been found at last in Quito, and it is expected
that very soon it will occupy its place near Bolivar, Sucre's leader and
friend. (See: Manuel Segundo Sanchez, Los Restos de Sucre, Caracas, 1918.)]
That news was perhaps the last blow to Bolivar. The day he received it he
was attacked with a severe cold, which he neglected and which developed
into his fatal illness, an illness which had been long latent in his frail
body. He remarked that the murder had perturbed his spirit. As a matter of
fact, from the day he received the news, he sank rapidly in both mind and
Venezuela was doing her best to thrust the dagger still deeper in Bolivar's
heart. Since she had decided to withdraw from the Union, it was resolved
by Congress that no negotiations should be exchanged between Venezuela and
Nueva Granada while "General Simon Bolivar remains in the territory of old
Colombia." One representative proposed, as a provision for the continued
relations between Venezuela and Nueva Granada, the expulsion of General
Bolivar from all the territory of Colombia, and his motion was accepted.
Most of the former friends of the dying man were now his bitter enemies,
all due to the ambition of Paez and the intrigues of his partisans and of
those who, in good faith, believed that idealistic Republican principles
could meet the practical needs of Colombia.
The President of Colombia, Mosquera, committed so many errors in government
that he lost his prestige and was forced to leave Bogota. The government
then passed into the hands of Caicedo. A military insurrection overthrew
the President and the Vice-President, and the military element proclaimed
Bolivar chief of the republic, granting him full powers. General Urdaneta,
old friend and constant companion of Bolivar, was entrusted provisionally
with the executive power, and he organized a cabinet. He at once sent a
commission to meet the Libertador in Cartagena. Many friends wrote Bolivar
beseeching him to return to Bogota to establish public order. The foreign
representatives also used their influence to induce Bolivar to accept
authority, for he was the only guaranty of peace.
[Footnote 1: Among the foreign representatives who showed pleasure at the
idea of Bolivar's accepting the power was the representative of the United
It is worthy of notice that the reputation of Bolivar as an ambitious man
was discredited in the State Department at Washington by the very
person thought to be its originator. When Watts was in Bogota, in his
correspondence with Clay (No. 19, Nov. 28, 1826), he asserted that he did
not believe in the anti-Republicanism of Bolivar, who had consolidated the
departments and acted with prudence and discretion. Watts expressed his
firm conviction that Bolivar would not act as dictator but in conformity
with the constitution, stating also the fact that Bolivar had refused the
Bolivian and Peruvian dictatorships. In his communication of March 2, 1827
(No. 26), Watts denies the rumors of the monarchial ambitions of Bolivar,
and says that he has nothing but the greatest magnanimity. On March 15,
Watts himself asked Bolivar to assume power.
All these stories of disinterestedness seem to be contradicted in the
correspondence of Harrison and Van Buren. In his note of May 27, 1829 (No.
13), Harrison speaks of monarchical plots, expressing his belief that
Bolivar is behind them, founding his assertions only on the opposition of
Bolivar to foreign princes. He is very free in speaking of _plans_, but he
gives no precise data about them. In his note of July 28, 1829 (No. 18),
Harrison states that the monarchists are determined to put Bolivar on the
throne, and adds that he saw a letter of "_a man in high position_ who
has enjoyed the entire confidence of Bolivar, but who is now in complete
opposition to all his schemes of personal aggrandizement." Bolivar,
according to this letter, intended to become the monarch of Colombia, Peru
and Bolivia. Then Harrison mentions the printing of a paper on the evils of
free government, and states that that paper, of which he had seen a single
copy, had the purpose of making propaganda in favor of Bolivar, but had
been suppressed for fear that it would injure Bolivar's cause. All this
sounds very much like personal hostility, and shows that the practice of
some diplomatic representatives of making trouble for the countries
where they are accredited instead of representing their own country in a
dignified manner is not new.
After the correspondence of Harrison, we find the papers of Moore to Van
Buren. In No. 10 of December 21, 1829, Moore affirms that Bolivar had no
monarchical designs and encloses a letter of Bolivar to O'Leary, ridiculing
monarchical government. That letter is dated August 21, 1829, and in it
Bolivar suggests the election of another president. Moore accuses Harrison
of insulting the Colombian government. The author is indebted to Dr. Julius
Goebel, Jr., for the references to these papers.]
Bolivar, declining to accept command of the insurrection and condemning the
movement, sent General O'Leary to the assembly provisionally organized
to advise them to use the right of petition and to inform them that he
condemned all other actions. He reiterated his offer to serve as a citizen
and as a soldier, and repeated that he would not accept any position except
as the majority of the people willed. In a letter to Urdaneta he said that
between him and the presidency there was "a bronze wall," which was the
law. He advised them to wait until the election could be held, and said
that he would then assume the executive power in case he were chosen in
free elections held according to the law. This letter was the last public
defense of his career. The last principle he sought to establish was the
most sound of Republican principles.
"The source of legality," he wrote, "is the free will of the people;
not the agitation of a mutiny nor the votes of friends."
From Cartagena he went to a town called Soledad, and then to Barranquilla,
where he remained during October and November, receiving daily news of the
insults with which Venezuela was rewarding his services, and knowing very
little of the good work of his friends, for he still had friends in several
sections of the countries he had set free. All Nueva Granada was in favor
of his assuming power as supreme chief of the republic. Ecuador proclaimed
him father of his country and protector of Southern Colombia, and the
government of Bolivia, learning that he was going to Europe, decided to
appoint him its ambassador to the Holy See.
But Bolivar was preparing for his last voyage. He planned to go to Santa
Marta, where his friends urged him to rest. His physician heartily
approved, thinking that there his health might improve. When he arrived
at Santa Marta, on the 1st of December, he had to be carried in a chair.
Subsequent to an examination by a French and an American physician, he was
sent to a country place called San Pedro Alejandrino, situated about three
miles from Santa Marta, where he obtained temporary relief. On the 10th
there were symptoms of congestion of the brain, but they disappeared. The
same day he drafted his will and, not desiring to die without speaking
again to his fellow citizens, issued his last proclamation, which read as
"Colombians, you have witnessed my efforts to establish freedom where
tyranny formerly reigned. I have worked unselfishly, giving up my
fortune and my tranquillity. I resigned the command when I was
convinced that you did not trust my disinterestedness. My foes availed
themselves of your credulity and trampled upon what is most sacred to
me--my reputation as a lover of freedom. I have been a victim of my
persecutors, who have led me to the border of the tomb. I forgive them.
"Upon disappearing from your midst, my love prompts me to express my
last wishes. I aspire to no other glory than the consolidation of
Colombia; all must work for the invaluable blessing of union; the
peoples, obeying the present government, in order to free themselves
from anarchy; the ministers of the Sanctuary, by sending prayers
to Heaven; and the soldiers, by using their swords to protect the
sanctions of social order.
"Colombians, my last wishes are for the happiness of our country. If my
death can help to destroy the spirit of partisanship, and strengthen
union, I shall tranquilly descend to my grave."
After this act he became delirious and, calling his servant, he said:
"Joseph, let us go away. They are throwing us out of here. Where shall we
go?" On the 17th of December, at one o'clock in the afternoon, the great
man of the South, one of the greatest men in the history of the world,
died. On that same day, eleven years before, in Angostura, Colombia had
been created by his genius. He died at the age of forty-seven and one-half
"Few men have lived such a beautiful life in the whirlpool of action;
nobody has died a more noble death in the peace of his bed."
[Footnote 1: Bolivar--J.E. Rodo.]
His death was the end of Colombia.
For twelve years his remains rested in Santa Marta, and then they were
carried to Caracas, where they now lie in the Pantheon, between two empty
coffins, that of Miranda on his right and that destined for Sucre on his
There the Venezuelans honor him as the protecting genius of their country.
They have blotted from the memory of man the ingratitude of their
forefathers. They live in constant veneration of the great man, and
consider him as the creator and protector of their country, and the
greatest source of inspiration to live austerely and united within
Venezuela, since they cannot form a part of that greater country, the dream
of which went with Bolivar to his tomb.
A patriot, a general as great as the greatest who ever lived, a statesman
possessing an exceptional wisdom and a vision which has been justified by a
century of American history, a loyal friend, a man of generous and liberal
nature, always forgiving, always opening his arms wide to his enemies,
always giving all that he had in material wealth and in spiritual gifts,
a conqueror of the oppressors of his country, a founder of three nations
(which later were converted into five, by the disruption of Colombia); the
man who consolidated the independence of America, making his power felt as
far as the provinces of the River Plata and Chile; a symbol of freedom,
even in Europe where his name was like a flag to all those who fought
oppression; a sincere Republican--all this was Simon Bolivar, and he was
something more. He was the best personification of his own race, the
Spanish race, which made him the brother of Morillo, Latorre and Rodil, a
race which lives in twenty nations of the earth and in whose memory all
names now stand equal, if they represent the same principles, whether they
were written in Covadonga or Carabobo, by the sword of Pelayo or by the
sword of Bolivar.
A man who writes of Bolivar's life, actions and sorrows, can hardly retain
the serenity of the historian, but surrenders to that deep emotion composed
of profound awe and human love, and, though his work may have been begun
impersonally, it ends with the creation in his heart of those deep feelings
which at times have no better expression than tears.
The Man and His Work
Bolivar was of rather less than medium height, thin and agile. In all his
actions he showed quickness and alertness. He had large, black, piercing
eyes, his eyebrows were curved and thick; his nose straight and long;
his cheeks somewhat sunken; his mouth, not particularly well formed but
expressive and graceful. From early youth his forehead was deeply lined.
His neck was erect; his chest, narrow. At one period of his life he wore
a mustache and sidewhiskers, but he resumed shaving about 1825, when grey
hair began to appear. His hair was auburn at first, and his complexion very
white in his youth, but tanned after his long campaigns. His appearance
evidenced frankness of character, and his body, spiritual energy.
Bolivar was always a great reader. In his style and his quotations he shows
his predilection for the classics, especially for Plutarch's "Lives." He
also read much of the literature of the French Revolution. He was a very
impressive orator; his addresses and proclamations show much emphasis, and
the rhetorical artifice is apparent, as it is in all literature of this
kind. In his letters he uses a very simple and naturally witty style.
He was a great coiner of sentences, many of which can be found in his
proclamations and addresses. His political perspicacity was remarkable.
He could and did break the conventionalities and the political principles
sacred in that epoch, to formulate those which were better for the
condition of the country. He was a shrewd judge of men, and knew how to
honor them and please them for the good of the cause they defended. All his
intellectual power was necessary to become a master of men like Paez and
Bermudez. His mental alertness was exceptional. He could make a decision
promptly without showing the effect of haste. He had a brain for large
problems and for small details. He would attend to the organization of his
army down to the most minute details, as well as to the preparations for
The most admirable moral quality of Bolivar was his constancy. It rose
His energy was marvelous to carry him through the difficulties he had to
encounter. In defeat he had
"the virtue of Antheus as no other hero had to such a degree; a
singular virtue of growing to more gigantic proportions when the fall
had been deepest and hardest; he had something like a strengthening
power to assimilate the sap of adversity and of discredit, not through
the lessons of experience, but through the unconscious and immediate
reaction of a nature which thus fulfils its own laws. His personality
as a warrior has in this characteristic the seal which individualizes
it, as was aptly said in a few words by his adversary, the Spanish
general Morillo: 'More fearful vanquished than victor.'"
[Footnote 1: Bolivar--J.E. Rodo]
His soul could be like steel, as in the case of Piar, and it could be soft,
as in his untiring forgiveness to Santander. His generosity was unlimited.
He gave all. Any soldier could come to him and receive money. It is said
that no common soldier went away from him with less than a dollar. When he
was on his way to Cartagena, having resigned power forever, when he was
writing to Caracas for money, at a time when he had not enough to pay his
transportation abroad, he was still giving of his limited resources to all
who begged of him.
His ambition was legitimate. In a communication he acknowledged that he was
not free from all ambition; but that does not mean that he yielded to
it. Virtue does not lie in the absence of temptation, but in fighting
it successfully. He was truly ambitious for glory, and when glory is as
legitimate as his was, there is no worthier ambition. He was accused by
Lorain Petre of craving flattery, and of having been delighted with the
homage paid him on his way to Potosi. Great men have been flattered
always, and that they are flattered does not mean that they like flattery.
Furthermore, there is a certain delicate flattery which every man likes.
We, sober-minded Americans, have often heard some of our great men who are
still living, even called saints, and we do not feel shocked. After
having given life to three countries, one of them composed of three large
divisions, Bolivar could receive homage without finding it incongruous or
He was refined in manner and always a gentleman. In his campaigns he was
careless of his clothing through necessity, but when in the cities he liked
to have all the refinements. He never thought of money; he would spend
it if he had it, and if he did not spend it, he gave it away. He enjoyed
society and was a great admirer of women. "He knelt before love, without
surrendering his sword to it."
He was human. He enjoyed a good joke, and sometimes his jokes hurt. It is
related that once, after a long march, he arrived at a small town where he
expected to get some food. He was received by the notables of the town,
among them a young intellectual, who took from his pocket a long address.
Bolivar listened to the beginning and at once knew that it was going to be
not only long but tedious. The young man came to a sentence reading: "When
Caesar crossed the Rubicon...," at which point Bolivar interrupted him,
saying, "My dear friend, when Caesar crossed the Rubicon he had had his
breakfast, and I have not yet had mine. Let us first have breakfast."
Generally, he respected everyone's feelings, and was much inclined to
praise others, the living as well as the dead. We may well remember the
honors paid to Girardot, his beautiful words in homage to Cedeno and Plaza,
how Paez received his dues after the battle of Carabobo, and how Sucre
was given his right place as one of the most legitimate glories of the
continent by Bolivar. Speaking of Anzoategui's death, he said: "I would
have preferred the loss of two battles to the loss of Anzoategui." No more
beautiful way could be found to be generous while being just.
We have called Bolivar a gentleman; we might rather call him a knight.
He loved an ideal and lived for that ideal, and that ideal was his last
thought before he went to his rest.
He was judged in Europe and North America in very flattering terms. Daniel
Webster, J.H. Perkins and Joseph Story, in the name of the Bunker Hill
Monument Association, wrote Bolivar the following:
"When we read of the enormous sacrifice of personal fortune, the
calmness in difficult situations, the exercise without misusing
a power greater than imperial power, the repeated refusal of
dictatorship, the simplicity of your Republican habits and the
submission to the constitution and law which has so gloriously
distinguished the career of Your Excellency, we believe that we see the
image of our venerated Washington. At the same time that we admire and
respect his virtues, we feel moved by the greatest sympathy to pay
equal homage to the hero and Liberator of the South."
Martin Van Buren wrote:
"What better example could be presented of human glory than that
the great chieftain who, after having successfully resisted foreign
aggression and extinguished domestic commotion, also conquered the
weakness to which noble hearts have been subjected at all times."
Murray, an English rear admiral, wanted to present his homage to the
"leader of all South America"; Lord Byron, whose yacht was called Bolivar,
also expressed his desire to visit him. Lafayette, Monsignor de Pradt,
Martin de Nancy, Martin-Maillefer, and the noted Humboldt, among others,
expressed their admiration for Bolivar. Victor Hugo praised him. His name
was on the lips of the Republicans of Europe as a symbol of liberty.
We have seen the words of Lafayette in transmitting the present sent to
Bolivar by Washington's family. A former member of the French Convention
wrote to him: "You are the first citizen of the world." The noted Irish
orator O'Connell sent his son to him with the following words: "I am
sending him to you, illustrious sir, in order that, admiring and imitating
your example he may serve under Your Excellency." The same was done by Sir
Robert Wilson, member of the English Parliament. Kosciusko's nephew went
to him to have the honor to serve him. The Dutch representative in Bolivia
compared him with William of Nassau. Bernadotte, King of Sweden, spoke of
a striking analogy between Bolivar and himself. Joseph Bonaparte, King
of Spain, expressed his desire that Murat's son go to Bolivar as his
aide-de-camp. Iturbide's son preferred also to serve under him. J.P.
Hamilton, British commissioner to the republic of Colombia, says: "He is
the greatest man, the most extraordinary character produced up to this day
by the new world." He considers him "supereminent above all heroes living
in the Temple of Fame."
Many persons have made comparisons between Bolivar and Napoleon, Bolivar
and Washington and Bolivar and San Martin. Juan Montalvo (in "Simon
Bolivar") writes that Bolivar is not so well known as Napoleon because
the glamour of Napoleon's life reduced to silence the lives of his
contemporaries. He asserts that in the future, Bolivar will take his place
beside the French Emperor. Napoleon owes his glory to Chateaubriand, to
Lamartine, to Madame de Stael, to Byron, to Victor Hugo, while Bolivar has
had few biographers, and a very few have spoken of him with the power and
authority of those who praised or attacked Napoleon.
Regarding a comparison between Washington and Bolivar, Montalvo says:
"Washington presents himself to memory and imagination as a great
citizen rather than as a great warrior; as a philosopher rather than as
a general.... Washington and Bolivar have in common their identity of
purpose; both aspired to the freedom of a country and the establishment
of democracy. The difference between these two illustrious men
in the excessive difficulty one had to conquer and the abundance with
which the other carried on his work to the end. Bolivar, during several
periods of the war, had no resources at all, nor did he know where to
get them; his indestructible love for his country, the sense of honor
active in his breast, the fertile imagination, the supreme will, the
prodigious activities which formed his character, inspired in him
wisdom to turn the impossibility into a reality.... North America was
rich, civilized and powerful even before its emancipation from Mother
England; if the colonists had not had their leader, one hundred
Washingtons would have presented themselves to fill the place, and not
at a disadvantage. Washington was surrounded by men as remarkable as he
was, if not better: Jefferson, Madison, men of great and deep counsel;
Franklin, a genius of Heaven and earth. All these and many others, no
matter how great they were, or how numerous, were as one in the service
of the cause, were rivals in obedience.... Bolivar had to tame his
lieutenants, to fight and to conquer his own fellow citizens, to fight
one thousand elements conspiring against him and against independence,
at the same time that he fought the Spanish legions and conquered
them or was conquered by them.... Washington presents himself to the
admiration of the world, more venerable and majestic, and Bolivar,
higher and brighter. Washington established a republic which later
became one of the greatest countries on earth; Bolivar founded also a
great country, but, less happy than his elder brother, saw it crumble
down; and though he did not see his work destroyed, he saw it
disfigured and diminished. The successors of Washington, great
citizens, philosophers and statesmen, never dreamed of tearing up the
sacred mantle of their mother in order to cover their scars with rags
of purple; Bolivar's companions, all of them, stabbed Colombia
order to take for themselves the greatest prize. Washington, his work
finished, accepted the trivial presents of his fellow citizens
Bolivar refused millions offered by Peru. Washington declined a third
presidential term in the United States and, like a patriarch withdrew
to live tranquilly in the bosom of private life, enjoying without any
mixture of hate the respect of his fellow citizens, venerated by the
people and loved by his friends. This singular and happy man had no
enemies. Bolivar accepted the tempting command that came to harass his
spirit for the third time, and this time from an impure source,
he died rejected, persecuted, insulted by many of his contemporaries.
Death has erased this small blemish and we see only the light which
surrounds the greatest of South Americans. Washington and Bolivar were
august men, the glory of the New World."
[Footnote 1: "Simon Bolivar," Juan Montalvo.]
In reality, great men cannot be compared. Each one stands by himself.
Washington was an able general, ready to sacrifice himself for his country;
a learned man, trained in military affairs; the representative of the will
of his fellow citizens, who were behind him in his tremendous fight for
freedom. Washington was the Father and the servant of his country.
Bolivar did not receive special training in military affairs. He did not
represent the will of his country, for his country had no will. His country
really did not exist. Bolivar created it. He was obeying no commands but
those of his conscience. He was making something out of nothing, and in his
campaigns it was the flash of genius which led him rather than science.
Washington was successful as a military commander and more so as a
statesman; Bolivar had remarkable successes and crushing defeat a general,
and, as a statesman, he showed a vision which amounted to inspiration--but
the creation of his mind and soul, Colombia, was a sad failure. Washington
lived in a country of law; Bolivar had to make the law. When Washington was
absent from a place, law remained in that place; when Bolivar turned his
back, law was violated.
San Martin is a noble figure. He stands alone in the southernmost part of
America. He did not begrudge praise given Bolivar, whose superiority he
acknowledged by withdrawing in time from the scene in America. Because of
this acknowledgment, San Martin grew greater than he had been before their
interview in Guayaquil. To endeavor to establish invidious comparisons
between him and Bolivar does harm to both heroes and good to no one. Let
both stay where they belong, in the hearts of their fellow-citizens, and
in the minds of lovers of freedom.
Strong resemblance might be found between Bolivar and Lincoln. Both gave
freedom to slaves; both fought a real civil war, for we must not forget
that most of the royalists were Americans. Both were men of sorrows. A
close examination of Bolivar's pictures and statues will reveal to the
observer that in the eyes of the great man of the South is the same
inexpressible melancholy which is obvious in those of our own man of
sorrows, the beloved Lincoln. Bolivar was insulted and slandered as was
Lincoln, and if Lincoln was assassinated by a man, Bolivar escaped the
weapon of the assassin only to sink under poisonous treachery and
ingratitude. It is true that Bolivar was quick-tempered, at times sharp
in his repartee; his intellectual aptness had no patience with stupidity,
and occasionally his remarks hurt. But when the storm had passed, he was
all benevolence, enduring all, forgiving all, like Lincoln.
He compared himself with Don Quixote, and in many ways this comparison is
the best. As Don Quixote, he created Dulcinea. It was not Don Quixote's
fault that the lady of his thoughts, the ideal Dulcinea, proved to be just
the uncouth peasant girl, Aldonza Lorenzo. Bolivar's Dulcinea was his
people, and he was not to blame for all the weakness, the roughness, the
grossness of those with whom he came in contact. But the American Don
Quixote had a higher virtue than the knight created by Cervantes, for Don
Quixote never could transform Aldonza into Dulcinea, while the peoples that
Bolivar saw in his imagination, those peoples who at first were hostile to
his work, through a century of constant purification, through a century
during which Bolivar has become a symbol, a protecting genius, a warning
against danger, an irresistible force to conquer difficulties and an
imperious finger pointing to higher destinies, are approaching more and
more each day what Bolivar thought they ought to be. The Aldonza Lorenzo
of America, through Bolivar's sublime madness, rid of her dross, will be
the Dulcinea of Bolivar's dream.
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