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Simon Bolivar Liberator
Simon Bolivarís father died before he was three years old. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was only eight years old. His inheritance made him one of the wealthiest persons in the Western hemisphere. Bolivarís care was entrusted by his mother to her freed slaves Jose Palacios and Hippolita who remained devoted to Bolivar his whole life. He was educated by tutors, most significantly by Simon Rodriguez who taught BolŪvar about liberty, human rights, politics, history, and sociology. Bolivar developed into a critical thinker who was far ahead of his time politically.
Bolivar studied in Spain for three years to gain "polish". There he met and fell in love with his cousin, Maria Teresa. They married and Bolivar brought Maria Teresa to his home in Caracas, Venezuela. Maria Teresa was embraced by Caracas high society and the young couple was very happy. Only eight months after their wedding in Spain, Maria Teresa died from yellow fever.
After his young bride died, Bolivar decided to begin his fight for freedom from Spain. Bolivar hoped to emulate George Washington of the United States who led his countryís revolution for independence, then set up a democratic government under a constitution. He devoted his life and all his wealth to the independence of South America, most of his fortune was spent to equip the army and to pay his soldiers and their widows. Most famous for his astounding military career, Bolivar was not just a leader of men; he fought side-by-side with his soldiers in over two hundred battles. Leading his army across the impassable Andes was an incredible feat, and the turning point of the war leading to Bolivarís success gaining independence
Bolivar became known as The Liberator, gaining independence for an area five times the larger than Europe. Bolivarís vision and goal was to unite South America in a democratic nation. Bolivarís intelligence and bravery were recognized all over the world.
As the first president of Gran Colombia, the united nations of the northern part of South America, Bolivar abolished slavery forty years before the United Statesí Civil War. He wanted to build a canal through the Isthmus of Panama as early as 1828 in order to unite both borders of Colombia and enhance commercial growth.
Bolivar established schools and universities, and free education for poor children. Bolivar enacted laws to protect the environment, wildlife, and the indigenous populations. He got some things that he wanted put into the constitution yet other things were not. But now that the work of uniting the three countries was done the next priority was to defeat the remaining factions within the country. Bolivar and his generals led an aggressive campaign against these parties and by 1822 the whole of Gran Colombia was liberated.
Bolivarís ideas were not readily accepted by the people, impoverished after so many years of war, all they could see was their deteriorated infrastructure. The people could not envision financial success without the free labor provided by slaves. It was a tumultuous time, for Bolivarís visions were too far ahead of time.
Differing factions continued to spring up among the citizens fracturing the unity that Bolivar tried to achieve. Bolivarís vision was beyond those of his people. It is often said that if he had accepted the dictatorship which was offered to him many times, he could have achieved the unity and independence that he so desired for South America. Bolivar detested the idea of dictatorship, slavery, and anything else that might curb universal independence for all people.
Bolivar claimed to be a soldier, not a politician. He was wrong in a way. He was an eloquent writer and speaker. He could easily get whatever he needed through his eloquence and charisma. Bolivar was determined and decisive. He spent his entire adult life in the saddle leading battles and travelling all over South America to put out the political fires that blew up in his absence. He could not be everywhere he was needed at the same time.
All the time that Bolivar was travelling and fighting exhaustively, his health was deteriorating rapidly from tuberculosis. He coughed blood for years, but never slowed his campaigns. In the last few months of his life he felt that he had failed. He was suffering and dying and felt that all that he had done to gain independence and set up a stable democracy was ďplowing the ocean.Ē
Bolivar died of tuberculosis complicated by pneumonia on December 17, 1830 in Santa Marta, Colombia surrounded by friends. He was impoverished and was buried in a borrowed shirt.
In 1842, Bolivarís body was returned to his birthplace, Caracas, Venezuela and interred in the Pantheon of Heroes. To this day, he is honored and revered as the father of six South American countries.
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