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Sun, 09.25.1808

Black History and the Spanish American Wars of Independence

*On this date in 1808, The Spanish American Wars of Independence and Black history are shared briefly.  These Spanish American wars of independence began on this date and were the numerous encounters against Spanish rule in Spanish America during the early 19th century. Based on the Middle Passage and it suppression of African slave labor and indigenous people, their aim was political independence. 

These encounters began shortly after the French invasion of Spain in 1807 during Europe's Napoleonic Wars. Although there has been research on the idea of a separate Spanish American ("creole") identity separate from that of Iberia, political independence was not initially the aim of most Spanish Americans, nor was it necessarily inevitable.  With the restoration of Ferdinand VII in 1814, the King rejected any type of popular sovereignty, as seen in the Spanish Constitution of 1812 passed by the Cortes of Cádiz – the parliamentary Regency in place while Ferdinand VII was deposed. The Liberal Triennium of 1820 also did not change the position of the Cádiz constitution against separatism, while Latin Americans were increasingly radicalized seeking political independence.   

The violent conflicts started in 1809 with short-lived governing juntas established in Chuquisaca and Quito in opposing the government of the Supreme Central Junta of Seville. In 1810, numerous new juntas appeared across the Spanish domains in the Americas when the Central Junta fell to the French invasion. Although various regions of Spanish America objected to many crown policies, "there was little interest in outright independence; indeed, there was widespread support for the Spanish Central Junta formed to lead the resistance against the French."  While some Spanish Americans believed that independence was necessary, most who initially supported the creation of the new governments saw them as a means to preserve the region's autonomy from the French.

Over the course of the next decade, the political instability in Spain and the absolutist restoration under Ferdinand VII convinced many Spanish Americans of the need to formally establish independence from the mother country.  These conflicts were fought both as irregular warfare and conventional warfare. These wars began as localized civil wars, that later spread and expanded to promote general independence from Spanish rule.  This independence led to the development of new national boundaries based on the colonial provinces, which would form the future independent countries that constitute contemporary Latin America during the early 19th century.  

Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule until the Spanish American War in 1898. The new republics from the beginning abolished the formal system of racial classification and hierarchy, casta system, the Inquisition, and noble titles. Slavery was not abolished immediately but ended in all of the new nations within a quarter century. Criollos (those of Spanish descent born in the New World) and mestizos (those of mixed American Indigenous and Spanish blood or culture) replaced Spanish-born appointees in most political governments. Criollos remained at the top of a social structure that retained some of its traditional features culturally, if not legally. For almost a century thereafter, conservatives and liberals fought to reverse or to deepen the social and political changes unleashed by those rebellions.  

The episodes in Spanish America were related to the wars of independence in the former French colony of Saint Domingue, Haiti, and the transition to independence in Brazil. Brazil's independence, in particular, shared a common starting point with that of Spanish America, since both conflicts were triggered by Napoleon's invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, which forced the Portuguese royal family to flee to Brazil in 1807. The process of Latin American independence took place in the general political and intellectual climate that emerged from the Age of Enlightenment and that influenced all of the Atlantic Revolutions, including the earlier revolutions in the United States and France. A more direct cause of the Spanish American wars of independence were the unique developments occurring within the Kingdom of Spain and its monarchy during this era. Concluding, finally, with the emergence of the new Spanish American republics in the post-Napoleonic world.  

Reference:

Spanish Wars.net

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