Latin American Independence

The vision of liberty had stirred the people of Latin America from the time the English colonies had gained their freedom. Before 1821, Argentina and Chile had established their independence, and in 1822, led by José de San Martin and Simón Bolivar, other South American states won freedom. By 1824, European colonies remained only in the West Indies and on the northern coast of South America.

The people of the United States took a deep interest in what seemed a repetition of their own experience in breaking away from European rule. In 1822, President Monroe, under powerful popular pressure, received authority to recognize the new countries - among them, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil - and soon exchanged ministers with them, thus recognizing these countries as selfsustaining, genuinely independent, and entirely separated from their former European connections.

At just this point a number of central European powers formed an association commonly called the Holy Alliance, to protect themselves against revolution. By intervening in countries where popular movements threatened the thrones of monarchs, the Alliance hoped to prevent the spread of revolution into their own dominions. This policy was the antithesis of the American principle of selfdetermination.