Factors of Independence in Spanish America

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Outline and discuss the main factors contributing to the movements of independence in Spanish America. The main factors contributing to the movements of independence in Spanish America can be seen to be influenced by international and domestic events, together with economic and socio-political conditions. These themes will be examined in considerable detail in this essay, together with the historical background which provides the foundation stone on which all movements of independence find their roots and ensures the uniqueness of each movement. The movements for independence were unique but equally many of the factors contributing to the movement are mirrored to a greater or lesser extent. The Enlightenment, which can be noted as a main factor which contributed to the movements of independence in Spanish America, was an era which focused mainly on philosophy, economics and science. The Enlightenment commenced in the middle of the 17th century and came to a close in 1815 after Napoleonic wars. Carl Becker said that “The Enlightenment was an International climate of opinion”. This argument can be supported because by the end of the 18th century, the colonial system was based mainly around Enlightenment thinking, which promoted the power of human reason. The Spanish empire was very much set on conveying the ideas of modern science and bringing these ideas into Spanish America. They did this in the provinces of Peru, New Granada and Mexico, where botanical and mining missions were sent. As a result of these missions, by the end of the colonial period, all factors of the Enlightenment in Spain could be seen in Spanish America. The Enlightenment familiarized the habitants who were affected by it, to the message that the idea of change was a normal process. This included change from “dangerous, damaging or demeaning” actions to the human condition, which they believed could be cured by the correct function of the power of the mind. By the end of the 18th century, the need for political change in Spanish America was evident. All inhabitants of Spanish America were believed to have absorbed the pressure of tradition and stability, which the Enlightenment carried. Only those who lived in very isolated areas of Spanish America escaped these ideas. However, throughout the period of Enlightenment, many laws became illegitimate as a result of being unjust or too ruthless, or even when the majority of people rejected them. It is important to consider the attitude of the people, for example, if they rejected some laws, they were more likely to question others. It can be said that is that this phase of noncompliance from the inhabitants may have been a spark for the movement of independence in Spanish America and that many prominent supporters of Independence were swayed in that direction by the Enlightenment. Another approach concludes that the period of Enlightenment in conjunction with the way people were living at the time became too complex for all societies to favour independence. It may be considered that if the people actually cared about change due to their standard of living, or in fact the converse, where they cared too much about change, mainly political, because they had no economic or social worries. The Enlightenment caused people to question their outlook on life and the prospect of change, therefore causing the movements towards independence. Furthermore, the Bourbon reforms were a main factor of the movement towards independence in Spanish America. Carlos III and Carlos IV introduced Bourbon regimes throughout the 18th century, in order to reform economic and political programs which were created to strengthen the control of the empire and to make it produce more income for a very poorly financed imperial regime, as well as encourage manufacturing and technology, which would modernize Spain. These reforms were carried into Spanish America in order to create a more efficient administration and promote...
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