Simón Bolívar (24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830)

Simón Bolívar was born in Caracas, which at the time was part of the Captaincy General of Venezuela, a Spanish colony. His full name was Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios, and he came from a wealthy family. Sadly, both his parents died while he was still a child, and he was raised by family friends and his nurse. In 1800, he was sent to Spain, and whilst in Europe he took the opportunity to travel, visiting places like Paris. After studying at a military academy, it was time to start his career as a military man...

Rising up against a powerful empire

Bolívar spent many years fighting for independence from Spanish rule. He returned to Venezuela in 1807 and was involved in its struggle against Spain. After a number of armed conflicts, Venezuela was declared a republic (for the second time) in 1813 - and Bolívar became officially known as "El Libertador" ("The Liberator") for his leadership. But the state was not yet free, and fighting between rival factions plagued Bolívar's desire for real independence...

Dan the Info-man
The Spanish Empire stretched over the South American continent. Brazil was part of the Portuguese Empire.

Fighting for many

Bolívar turned his attention to New Granada. His forces won the pivotal Battle of Boyacá (1819) against the Spanish. Now Bolívar had some real power behind him, he was able to make a more concerted effort for Venezuelan independence. In 1821, he gained a victory at the Battle of Carabobo (with help from the British Legions opposed to Spanish global power) which led to the creation of Gran Colombia (encompassing much of northern South America). Unsurprisingly, El Libertador became president of this new state...

Dan the Info-man
Bolívar survived assassination attempts and various periods in exile during his rise to power.

The battles for independence continue

In 1822, Bolívar's forces managed to liberate Ecuador; Peru was next. He had been made dictator of Peru in 1824, and a victory at the Battle of Junín later that year against a Spanish Royalist army helped consolidate his position. In 1825, the Republic of Bolivia was created and in 1827 Bolívar returned to Caracas.

Dan the Info-man
The Battle of Junín was a cavalry battle involving hand-to-hand combat.

Strife and death

Although Bolívar's efforts and many battles had helped the Republicans gain power from the Royalists, things were not peaceful at home. Disputes and uprisings littered the new states and Bolívar's health was failing him. It pained him to see the fruits of his labors falling apart; Gran Colombia was splitting into separate states, whereas Bolívar still advocated union. He died in 1830, from tuberculosis.

Incredible and lasting legacy

Although Gran Colombia was dissolved, the new states were at least independent. His overwhelming passion for liberty has made him a popular figure right up to the modern day. Statues, memorials and public squares in honor of El Libertador can be found in major cities around the world.

Dan the Info-man
This statue is called Equestrian of Simón Bolívar and can be found in Washington, D.C. It was installed in 1959 and created by Felix de Weldon.
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