In July, five countries in the Americas celebrate their declaration of independence: the U.S., Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia and Peru. All of these countries benefited from the French Illustration and subsequently by the U.S. independence and the French Revolution.
The U.S. Declaration of Independence took place on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, although it was not accepted by Great Britain until 1783 in the Paris Treaty. Some of their main reasons include the higher taxes imposed by George III’s British government (including the well-known tea tax) and the unfair treatment they received.
In fact, the text of the Declaration of Independence actually mentions the following as the main reason: “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” The text then justifies the need for independence as they had previously warned the U.K. of their dissatisfaction. The Declaration ends with the affirmation of their independence and the absolution of all allegiance to the British Crown.
Independence in Latin America
Latin America benefited from the political instability in Spain at the time. Even though several separatist movements took place in Latin American countries in the 18th Century, it was after Napoleon’s invasion and Carlos IV’s abdication when those supporting independence from Spain grew stronger.
The Venezuelan Declaration of Independence was approved on July 5, 1811. The Independence process began after this moment, starting with a vote in Congress and Parliament until August 18, 2011 when the last signatures were recorded. Interestingly, the independence records were lost for 100 years after the collapse of the first Venezuelan republic. They were later found in a piano bench in a home in Valencia.
The most important moment from the Congress of Tucuman took place on July 9, 1816 with the Argentine Declaration of Independence, although it had begun much earlier on March 24, 1816. The Independence Act was very similar to the U.S. Declaration of Independence as it mentions Argentina’s disagreement with the Spanish monarchy’s policies: “The territory’s call for its official emancipation from the despotic power of the Spanish monarchy was universal, constant and unwavering.”
This Congress took place at Francisca Bazán de Laguna’s home, a 72 year old woman who rented out her home for the sessions of Parliament. It was declared a National Historic Monument in 1941.
Colombia’s Declaration of the Revolution for Independence was written on July 20, 1810. However, a complete break from the Kingdom of Spain was not intended at first. As Armando Gómez told El Tiempo, “There are no signs of political autonomy in the Declaration. The viceroyalty was simply demanding its regional “fueros” just like other Spanish provinces at the time.”
Colombia’s actual Independence did not occur until nearly a decade later in the summer of 1819 when Simón Bolívar defeated the royal troops in the Battle of Boyaca. In 1900, the original text was lost in a fire in the Galerías Arrubla Building. Emilio Streicher set the building on fire to collect on insurance.
“There is a resolute general will for Peru’s independence from the control of Spain or any other foreign country.” With this statement the creation of a new state was confirmed in Peru’s Declaration of Independence on July 15, 1821. However, it was not until July 28, 2011 when it was passed and ratified in Plaza Mayor in Lima. This was a big loss for the Kingdom of Spain, as its main power in South America was based in Peru.