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hundred men, which left that port on February 3, 1806, on the ship“ Leander” for Jaquemel in the Island of Hayti, where he was joined by two transports, the “ Bacchus" and the " Abeja.” Mr. William S. Smith, Jr., a grandson of ex-President John Adams, and a son of Colonel William S. Smith, surveyor of the Port of New York, went in that expedition as aid to General Miranda. In consequence of that, Colonel Smith had to resign and he was indicted, and a noisy trial followed in which he was acquitted.
Miranda reached the coast of Venezuela, at Ocumare, but there he lost his two transports, which were captured by the Spaniards together with sixty-seven men, ten of whom were hanged at Puerto Cabello, the remaining fifty-seven being sent to the military prison of San Felipe el Real, in Cartagena.
Miranda met in the Island of Barbadoes, Sir Alexander Cochran, Admiral of the British Navy, who addressed him a letter dated June 6, 1806, on board his flagship, the “Northumberland,” in which he stated that Miranda's plan to achieve the independence of South America was advantageous to British interests, and agreed to assist in landing Miranda's forces on the coast of Venezuela, and to provide him with three small vessels and probably one frigate, and to defend Miranda's ships against any attacks from the Spanish naval forces. In exchange for his assistance he demanded certain commercial advantages to be granted when independence should be achieved. Miranda left Grenada escorted by the English man-of-war “ Lily," the brig “Empress” and the merchant schooner “ Trimmer.” In Trinidad he had been reinforced, his army consisting of about four hundred men and he landed at Coro. But nobody joined him, all the natives having fied to the interior on his arrival, and he was forced to leave the mainland and to return to the Antilles.
In 1811, Miranda went again to Venezuela and succeeded in organizing a force with which he began the war, but he was obliged to surrender, and was sent to a Spanish prison in Cadiz, where he died in 1816, without seeing his country's independence accomplished. But he had been the forernnner of Bolivar.
Beginning of Mexican Independence. The causes which, in my opinion, did more than anything else to precipitate the independence of the American colonies were the disgraceful dissensions of the Spanish royal family in 1808 at Aranjuez and their subservience to Napoleon, which culminated in their
abdication in favor of the Emperor. This was accomplished by the Treaty of Bayonne, which transferred to the French Emperor all the rights and titles of Charles IV. to the throne of Spain and the Indies, including the American colonies. The Spanish people strenuously resisted the French invasion and established Juntas in Spain and the colonies to rule the country in the name of Ferdinand VII., the heir of the King, whom Bonaparte had compelled to abdicate. It was in this manner that the native Americans acquired for the first time some control of their own affairs and began to realize that they could take care of themselves. Although the principal Spanish Junta, which met at Cadiz, called representatives to the Cortes from the Spanish colonies, the representation of the latter was very meagre, and that step, instead of satisfying the colonists, only demonstrated to them that the Spaniards were determined not to allow them self government. Thus the idea of independence gradually gained ground all over the American continent.
That such was the case is shown by the remarkable coincidence that the insurrections in all the American colonies of Spain took place within the same year and almost at the same moment, and, I think, without any previous accord among them. The distances were so great and the means of communication so scanty, slow, and difficult, that news of the outbreak of an insurrection in one colony could not have been received in the others for several months, in some cases not for a year or more, after it had occurred.
This fact shows, in my opinion, that the colonies were ripe for independence, and that a condition of things had been reached which made independence a necessity that could not be postponed or smothered. Although there had been several attempts at independence in the American colonies of Spain before the year 1810, especially the one at Chuquisaca, now Sucre, in Bolivia, on May 25, 1809, independence was not proclaimed until the following year, on May 25 in Buenos Ayres, July 20 in Bogotá, and in September in Mexico and all the other colonies.
It is possible that the Mexican patriots had heard of the several attempts made in the other Spanish colonies to proclaim independence, but I have no doubt that no real importance was attached to such news, and that it had no influence upon their conduct. In Mexico the Viceroy Iturrigaray began to organize
in 1808, after the Treaty of Bayonne, an army for the purpose of defending the colony against the French. The Spanish residents became jealous of the Viceroy, deposed him and sent him back to Spain, appointing another Viceroy in his place. That, naturally, destroyed the respect which the Mexican people had for the representative of the Spanish King, and showed them that force, when successful, vas justifiable and could accomplish great things. The way was thus prepared for a series of military revolutions which continued to break out for about sixty years.
The South American leaders, if we are to judge by the opinions expressed in the document above referred to, and more especially General Miranda, who had undoubtedly military talent and was a distinguished soldier and an enthusiast in the cause of independence, were of opinion that independence could not be achieved with native resources only, and that it required as an indispensable element the armed assistance of foreign nations, although they never succeeded in obtaining any. The views of the Mexican leaders were altogether different. They never dreamed of any foreign assistance, and they relied entirely upon the strength and resources of their own country. It is true that Hidalgo, soon after he proclaimed independence, and while he was retreating toward the north, sent a representative to the United States, but I do not think he had any idea of asking for material assistance, and desired only to obtain the good will of a neighboring country in the contingency that, in the course of his military operations, he should reach its frontiers.
The United States did not Assist the Independence Cause.The United States government did not render either material or moral assistance to the cause of the independence of the Spanish-American colonies. At various times they sent commissioners to examine into the condition of those countries, especially to Buenos Ayres, as I will presently state more in detail ; but, being at peace with Spain, they considered that it would be a breach of neutrality to aid the movement for establishing independence in her colonies. They did not recognize the independence of the colonies until several years after it had been fully accomplished. Mexico, for instance, established her independence in 1821, but the United States did not recognize Mexico as an independent nation until 1824, though she was a neighboring country.
Mr. Lyman, in his book, Diplomacy of the United States, says that “these revolutionary struggles did not awaken any great general interest in our citizens.” “Our government,” he adds,
was left free and unembarrassed to pursue its steady course of good faith and exact neutrality toward Spain, and of justice and policy towards the colonies.” He further says : “ Neither the vicinity of some portions of their respective territories, nor the circumstance of being members of the same continent, nor the benefit to be derived from commercial relations, nor the similarity of their struggles for independence, appears in the least to have influenced the definite arrangements of this government. On the contrary, the business was conducted with the utmost caution and circumspection, and nothing was done to give offence to Spain, or awaken in other nations the slightest suspicion of the loyalty with which this country was determined to adhere to its system of neutrality.”
Mr. Lyman concludes by saying that the United States was the first country to recognize the independence of the Spanish American colonies, but that the recognition was delayed until not a shadow of hope for the restoration of Spanish dominion remained
Commissioners Sent by the United States to the Revolted Colonies.-Between 1810 and 1820 the President of the United States sent commissioners on three different occasions to South America, in order to obtain reliable and exact information regarding the real situation of affairs there. The first mission was entrusted by Mr. Monroe, as Secretary of State, to Mr. Joel R. Poinsett, as agent to Buenos Ayres, and was dated June 26, 1810. Mr. Alexander Scott was sent as agent to Venezuela on May 12, 1812. Mr. Poinsett's report on the condition of South America was dated November 4, 1818.
The second commission was sent by the President in 1817, and consisted of Mr. Theodorick Bland, Mr. Cæsar A. Rodney, and Mr. John Graham, who were instructed to examine into the conditions of Buenos Ayres and Chile. The reports of Mr. Rodney and Mr. Graham, dated November 5, 1818, and Mr. Bland's report, dated November 2, 1818, were transmitted to Congress on November 17 of the same year. Appended to the first two reports is a “Historical sketch of the revolution of the United Provinces of South America, from the 25th of May, 1810, until the open
ing of the National Congress on the 25th of March, 1816, written by Doctor Gregorio Funes, and appended to his History of Buenos Ayres, Paraguay, and Tucuman,"
The third commission was entrusted to Mr. T. B. Prevost and Mr. John M. Forbes, sent in 1820 as commercial agents to Chile and Buenos Ayres. Their reports were transmitted to Congress, the one on March 8 and the other on April 26, 1822. It is remarkable that no commission was sent to Mexico.
Commissioners Sent by the Revolted Colonies to the United States.-The leaders of the independence cause in Spanish America sent Commissioners to the United States for the purpose of obtaining the recognition by this government of their independence, and, if possible, material assistance. I have already referred to the Commissioner sent from Mexico by Hidalgo, and the other Commissioners of whom I find a record, were the following:
Don Juan Vicente Bolivar and Don Telesforo Orca were furnished with credentials dated at Caracas, April 25, 1810, and full powers to transact business. A copy of the Declaration of Independence of the Province of Venezuela, made by the Congress composed of deputies assembled in Caracas, was communicated by them to the United States government, and transmitted to Congress on December 9, 1811. These agents were not allowed to have any official intercourse with the United States government.
On December 11, 1818, Señor Don Lino Clemente informed the Secretary of State that he had been appointed Venezuela's representative “near the United States," and requested an interview; but he was informed that no conference could be held with him and no communication received from him by this government. His letters were submitted to the House of Representatives with the President's Message of January 29, 1819, accompanied by a report from Mr. John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State, giving the reasons in full for delaying recognition at that time.
Don Manuel H. de Aguirre came to this country in 1817 as a public agent from La Plata and a private one from Chile, and addressed several letters to the Secretary of State, in 1817 and 1818, soliciting the acknowledgment of the Province of Buenos Ayres, which were transmitted to the House of Representatives, March 25, 1818, with a report from Secretary Adams, of that