New Spain, 1799 (03:08)
European turmoil following the French Revolution had lasting influence on the people of New Spain. In 1799 about one million people lived in Spain's South American provinces, including 60,000 slaves. The people of Caracas loved all things Spanish but resented Spanish exploitation.
Simón Bolívar's Youth and Education (02:34)
Simón Bolívar, the youngest child of an aristocratic Creole family, had lost both his parents by age six. His education in Caracas was put in the hands of the best teachers; at age 16 Bolívar traveled to Madrid and received an education suitable for a young aristocrat planning a military career.
Alexander von Humboldt: Science and Nationalism (04:28)
In 1800 naturalist Alexander von Humboldt explored the Orinoco River on a scientific journey of discovery and research. He also befriended leading Latin American intellectuals and was quite interested in their growing sense of national pride.
Alexander von Humboldt Reflects on Native History (06:12)
Simón Bolívar's Spanish bride died a year after the couple left Madrid for Caracas; Bolívar returned to Europe a few months later. As naturalist Alexander von Humboldt explored New Spain, he reflected on the tragic history of native South Americans under Spanish rule.
Humboldt Meets Bolívar (01:31)
Besides his significant scientific discoveries Alexander von Humboldt's work helped free South America from Spanish colonialism. Humboldt and Simón Bolívar met for the first time in Paris in 1804; soon after Bolívar vowed to free Venezuela from Spanish rule.
The Venezuelan Revolution Begins (02:07)
The revolution to free Venezuela from Spanish rule began in 1810; the Spanish won early battles and destroyed the Bolívar family estate. When an earthquake destroyed Caracas, people believed God was punishing them for the insurrection against Spain.
Simón Bolívar in Columbia: The Cartagena Manifesto (02:34)
After failed attempts to drive the Spanish from Venezuela, Simón Bolívar escaped to Columbia and joined the Colombian army. In Cartagena Bolívar wrote his famous Cartagena Manifesto, a document that marked the beginning of his public career.
Bolívar's Troops March Toward Caracas (04:27)
With maps made by Alexander von Humboldt, Simón Bolívar led troops through Columbia and captured one Spanish fort after another. Bolívar pushed his army beyond the range of his assignment and marched across the Andes mountains toward Caracas.
Simón Bolívar Liberates Caracas (02:09)
Copies of Simón Bolívar's Cartagena Manifesto spread across the world as he drove his troops on a grueling march toward Caracas. On August 6, 1813, Bolívar took Caracas and liberated Venezuela from Spanish rule.
Spain Reasserts Latin American Dominance (03:06)
After Napoleon's armies were forced to evacuate Spain in 1813 following a four year occupation, the Spanish deployed troops to retake Venezuela. Simón Bolívar again fled to Colombia until the Spanish brutally recaptured Cartagena.
The Ideals of Freedom: Bolívar Prepares to Fight Again (02:14)
Simón Bolívar prepared to once again drive the Spanish from South America after Spain's brutal return. While making preparations in Haiti, Bolívar resolved he would abolish slavery and the ideals of the French Revolution took hold in Latin America.
New Strategy and New Goals: Liberating South America (02:13)
In his third campaign to drive the Spanish from Venezuela, Simón Bolívar acquired 7,000 battle hardened professional soldiers from England and Germany. From this point forth, Bolívar made the permanent liberation of all South America his goal.
Liberation of Colombia (05:07)
European mercenaries fought alongside Simón Bolívar's revolutionaries as it became clear that Spain's power was weakening. Bolívar's occupation of Bogota amounted to the liberation of all Colombia.
Liberation of Venezuela (02:07)
The Battle of Carabobo, the climactic battle of Venezuela's liberation, cost more than 2,000 lives. By November of 1823, the war in Venezuela was over and the city of Caracas was once again liberated.
Campaign to Unite South America (03:53)
Simón Bolívar dreamed of a confederation that would unite all of South America. After freeing Venezuela he marched south toward Peru, freeing Ecuador along the way.
Decisive Battles for Liberation (02:46)
Battles at Junin and Ayacucho ended 300 years of Spanish occupation in South America. In a small native village, the last Spanish viceroy officially ended the war and surrendered the entire continent of South America.
Politics Shatters Bolívar's Dream (04:37)
Simón Bolívar hoped to meld his newly liberated territories into a unified nation and to work cooperatively with the United States. The Monroe Doctrine and selfish ambitions of South American politicians left him discouraged and resigned to exile until his death in 1830.
Simón Bolívar's Legacy (03:13)
Simón Bolívar freed South America but failed to unite the liberated lands. Struggles for power among selfish and greedy leaders marked the first decade of Latin American independence; oppression and injustice are still common but hopes for peace and democracy still live.
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