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Simon Bolivar: The Liberator

Project 4A by Sharon Sneddon

Simon Bolivar

Simon Bolivar was a South American revolutionary leader. He was born in Caracas, Venezuela into a very wealthy family in July 24, 1783. The town he lived in Caracas, got its name from Cobre Caracas, another name for Copper, which is family mined quite successfully. At the age of nine, both of Bolivar’s parents passed away and he was left in the hands of his uncle Don Carlos Palacios. Before and after his parents’ death he was very well educated by multiple tutors, including Simon Rodriguez, who taught him works of the enlightenment as well as works of classical Rome and Greece. At fifteen, his Uncle sent him to Spain to continue his education. In Spain he met Maria Teresa Rodriguez, whom he married in 1802 at the age of 19 years. Upon returning to Venezuela in 1803, Maria Theresa died of yellow fever and Bolivar vowed to never marry again. He never did.

            After her death in 1804, he returned to Spain with his childhood friend and tutor, Simon Rodriguez. While abroad, he was able to witness the rise of Napoleon as emperor of France. Bolivar felt Napoleon had betrayed the republican ideals. In Italy, Bolivar made his infamous promise to never stop his quest to free America from Spanish control until the day Spain left America. He declared this atop Mount Aventin in Rome.

            In 1810 Bolivar joined a junta that had seized control of Caracas and proclaimed independence from Spain. The Spaniards later forced him to retreat to New Granada, which is now called Columbia, and was also at war with Spain. He took command of Columbian forces and helped the patriots who lacked many men and supplies, thus Bolivar had to once again flee, this time to Jamaica. During his time there he gathered up a force and brought them to Venezuela in 1816 and took Angostra. He later became dictator there. He marched back into Columbia in 1819 and defeated the Spanish that same year, liberating the country. Bolivar became Columbia’s first president in December 17, 1819. He continued his liberating attacks into Ecuador and became dictator of Peru also. Upper Peru became a separate state and was named Bolivia in Bolivar’s honor. According to many, the constitution Bolivar drew up for Bolivia is one of his most important political achievements.

            Unfortunately, after South America was entirely liberated on December 9 1823 at the Battle of Junin near Lima, Peru, civil wars broke out. These wars destroyed much of the unity Bolivar had worked so hard to establish. As factional fighting broke out around him, Bolivar developed a fatal case of tuberculosis, and died on December 17, 1830 at the age of 47.


Why Simon?

For the Independence period, I noticed the name Simon Bolivar on the list of options to research; the named seemed quite familiar to me. I had heard his name mention before but had no recollection of what I represented or what feats it was attached to. I thus chose to delve further in Simon’s biography.


Simon Bolivar Websites:




These are excellent websites. The first website, wikipedia, is an online encyclopedia that is edited by its readers and constantly revised. This makes the information fresh and up to date, assuming the people who edit the material are knowledgeable, which is usually the case. The second website is a straightforward biography with correct factual information. The third website is dedicated entirely to the philosophical works of Simon Bolivar alone.


Some interesting things I learned about Simon:

1) After his first wife died at 19, he never married again.

2) Simon Bolivar made a promise in Italy to never stop fighting for the freedom of South America until that day came when either he was dead or it was free.

3) Simon Bolivar is considered the George Washington of South America.


Simon Bolivar was an idealist, a man who stuck to his word and led the liberation of South America.


Simon Bolivar, with his broad education in the enlightenment as well as the classics of Greece and Rome, was a philosophical man. He believed in rationality and logic and was against most forms of oppression. Paulo Freire’s anti colonialist theories would be praised by Bolivar. Freire’s theory that oppression is the worst tool an educator can use also applies. Spain was originally in the Americas, so they said, to convert and evangelize, although this was least likely the actual reason. The form of conversion (education) of the natives was wrapped in the most oppressive form possible, in violence.

Project 4A