Simon Bolivar

Topics: Age of Enlightenment, Liberalism, French Revolution Pages: 5 (708 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Throughout history there have been several leaders who

used their cunning and sly intelligence to trick the general

population into following them and their beliefs. Eventually,

these leaders had so much support, they could no longer be

called leaders, but absolute and dictatorial rulers. However,

during the period of Enlightenment and of the French

Revolution, non-maleficent ideas, created by Locke,

Montesquieu, Voltaire, and other Enlightenment

Philosophes, were spread throughout the European

population. They stated the opposition to absolute

monarchies as well as a new main focus on people's innate

rights and freedoms. Many leaders after this period of

Enlightenment preached its ideas, while others simply used

them to gain power. Simon Bolivar might have preached

opinions that mainly reflected the ideas of the French

Revolution. However, his actions contradicted these

opinions, and revealed that his true intentions were selfish

and illiberal.

In several documents and speeches, Bolivar stated that he

was very fond of freedom, liberty and equality. Clearly, it

would seem that he desired democracy. This can be seen in

his "Jamaican Letter", where he states "More than anyone I

desire to see America fashioned into the greatest nation in

the world, greatest not so much by virtue of her area and

wealth as by her freedom and glory." However, he adds

to this "love of freedom" in saying that it is "inconceivable"

to set up such a government, simply because there is not

enough political knowledge for a system such as that to run.

Further, Bolivar says that he agrees with the ideas of

Montesquieu, who played a very important role during the

Enlightenment period, and states that he is against

absolutism. In looking at the beliefs Bolivar spoke of, one

could almost come to the conclusion that he directly

lectured the ideas fought for in the French Revolution;

opposition to absolute monarchies, natural rights and

freedoms, ideas of Montesquieu, and ruling for the

people's best interest.

Interestingly, however, Bolivar never actually put any of his

"glorious ideas" into action. Instead of setting up a

democracy, ideas of which he praised, he arranged a

system in which his total control was made known. He

declared himself president until he died, created a weak

legislative body with almost no power, and limited the right

to vote to the Creoles, who were American-born

Spaniards. Not only did this contradict his great "Love of

freedom" that he originally spoke of, but also his hate of

monarchy, a system of government not too far off from the

"paternal constitution" he himself created. Furthermore, this

government system doesn't reflect ideals fought for in the

French Revolution, which he once agreed with. In a

document written by Bolivar, he states that he fears Black

and Indian "insurrections." Evidently, it can be seen that if

Bolivar fears revolts of Black and Indian peoples, then

these two groups are still being oppressed. Obviously, his

original love of equality has faded if he is allowing the

persecution of two very populous groups in Latin America,

the Blacks and the Indians. And last, a passage from the

diary of Louis Peru de la Croix suggests that Simon Bolivar

was "not always tolerant." If Bolivar was intolerant, he

wouldn't have supported free speech, which again goes

against his previous support of Enlightenment thinkers and

of the French Revolution.

In analyzing whether or not Bolivar was in support of ideals

of the Enlightenment period and the French Revolution, one

must analyze the terms "Beliefs" and "Actions." It is true

that Simon Bolivar talked of many beliefs which might have

reflected these two periods of time. However, could it be

possible that he was just looking to gain more power so

that he could...
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