Factors Lat Amer Independence Essay, Research Paper
I agree with the statement that the growing acceptance of ideas and attitudes associated with modernization and Europeanizism that essentially caused the movement toward Spanish American Independence, but disagree that, no other factors were involved. There was a huge underlying factor involved and that was the resentment of Peninsulars by the Creoles. The resentment of the Peninsulars by the Creoles has been fermenting over a century and more. Where the Peninsulars under a Pre-Bourbon Crown held a lot of power and privileges over the Creoles in terms of political offices and large industry. What we see is a Latin American Society now grown up and in a rebellious teenage like state being coerced by a role model (Western Nations) against their parents (Spain). Bourbon Reforms, Entreprenuralism, Freetrade and Modernization are some of the factors that helped push Spanish American to seek Independence.
To begin we must start with the Bourbon Reforms and freetrade examine their role in this process. The death of Charles II in November of 1700 marked the end of an era in Spanish history and the beginning of another. Charles decided on the french, Philip Anjou to succeed him. But England was very alarmed over the idea that there would be a union of France and Spain and this precipitated the War for the Spanish Succession that lasted from 1702 to 1713. The war ended with the treaty of Utrecht, which granted to England Gibraltar, Minorca and some important trade concessions in the Spanish Indies and a guarantee against a future accommodation between France and Spain. In addition a later peace treaty gave the Spanish Netherlands and Spain s Italian possessions to Austria. This was a humiliating defeat for Spain and left the country with a deep and pervasive sense of pessimism and defeatism. The new established peace allowed for the implementation of a program of reform inspired by the French reform model. The reform and revival of Spain is associated under the House of Bourbon. Under a government that could be described as despotic the bourbon Kings attempted to completely overhaul the existing political and economic structures and totally renovated Spanish national life. In the American colonies the Bourbon never gave any thought to greater self-government to the colonists or of permitting them to trade more freely with the non-Spanish world, despite the growing contraband trade between the 13 North American colonies and the rest of the Americas. If anything, the Bourbons centralized colonial administration so as to make it more efficient. The commercial reforms were designed to stop smuggling and the contraband trade that had flourished for decades and reinforce the exclusive commercial ties between Spain and its colonies. If anything, Spain was out to reconquer the colonies economically for Spain.
Philip V, the first Bourbon sought to reinforce the flota system, which had fallen into decay in the late 17th century and had allowed for a growing contraband trade. From the 1760 s the mercantilist system was gradually eliminated to allow for more free trade. In 1778 the famous free-trade decree was promulgated whereby with the exception of Mexico and Venezuela trade would be free between the colonies. In 1789 the decree was extended to all or Spanish America. But, still the reform ultimately failed in reconquering colonial markets for Spain for two main reasons. First, Spain was not an industrialized country and therefore the colonies actively sought trade was the emergent industrialized nations such as England, France and Holland. And number two Spanish American trade was plagued by the problem that Spain was unable to keep the vital sea lanes open in time of war. Because of these two reasons Spain was unable to supply the colonies with the essential goods that they needed. It would be more and more the US that would supply these goods to Spanish America much to the dismay of both Spain and England. The production of sugar, indigo, cacao, tobacco hides and other staples rose sharply due to increased European demand for these products and the impact of the Bourbon Reforms. This leads to major entreprenuralism on the part of Creoles who get increased economic independence. Under the Austrian methods of mining used in Spanish America there is an increase in efficiency that leads to increase productions. All of this is influenced by the Industrialization of Northern European and US industries that need the raw material from Latin America and agricultural produce to feed the expanding urban populations of the Industrialized nations who in turn sell necessary finished goods to Creole merchants .
Bourbon Reforms and the Political Structure. As stated before these reforms Peninsulars had a heavy political influence more so because of their connection to the old Spanish Royal Court. The need for funds leads the Bourbons to accelerate the sale of influential positions to Creoles. Between the French Revolution and the American Revolution and the influx of Enlightenment Ideas from Europe the inevitable was meant to happen and that is Independence from a week Royal Court as the Bourbons who could not political influence the decisive change in the change of political structure of Spanish American Society of that time.
The Bourbons Reforms that they did and did not do coupled with the expansion of freetrade in their Spanish American Colonies, which brought foreign revolutionary ideals, lead to the Spanish colonies direction toward Europeanism and modernization.