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Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military leader who was instrumental in the revolutions against the Spanish empire.
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Simón Bolívar was a South American soldier who was instrumental in the revolutions against the Spanish empire. Born into a wealth, Bolívar was sent to Spain for his education, soon deciding to immerse himself in the political sphere in Europe. After France invaded Spain in 1808, he became involved in the resistance movement and played a key role in the Spanish American fight for independence. In 1825, the "Republic of Bolivia," was created after the inspirational leader,
hailed by many as El Libertador (The Liberator).
Simón José Antonio de la Santísma Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios was born on July 24, 1783 in Caracas, New Granada (now Venezuela). Bolívar was born into a prosperous family, who took their money from rich gold and copper mines they owned in Venezuela. Young Bolívar moved to Spain in 1799, after the deaths of his parents. In Spain, he continued his education, begun in Venezuela with tutors and married María Teresa Rodríguez del Toro y Alaysa in 1802. When the young couple returned to Venezuela to visit in 1803, however, María Teresa sickened and died of yellow fever.
For several years, after her death, Bólivar returned to Europe and kept company with Napoleon. Bolívar returned to Venezuela in 1807 and when Napoleon named Joseph Bonaparte King of Spain and its colonies, which included Venezuela, Bolívar joined the resistance movement. The resistance group based in Caracas gained independence in 1810, and Bolívar traveled to Britain on a diplomatic mission. The fight for control of Caracas, Venezuela and most of South American continued on back home.
Finally, Bolívar returned to Venezuela and began a campaign to wrest control of that country from the Spanish. He and his followers invaded Venezuela on May 14, 1813; this marked the beginning of his "Compana Admirable," (Admirable Campaign) which resulted in the formation of the Venezuelan Second Republic later that year. Bolívar was hailed as El Libertador (The Liberator). 1821 saw the creation of the Gran Colombia, under Bolívar's leadership. This federation included much of what is now Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador. Further maneuvers saw him named Dictator of Peru in 1824, followed by the creation of Bolivia in 1825.
Bolívar had succeeded in uniting much of South America in a federation free from Spanish control, but the government was fragile. Despite his desire to create a union of states similar to that which created the United States of America, Bolívar faced opposition from internal factions throughout the huge Gran Colombia. As a temporary measure, Bolívar declared himself dictator in 1828. He resigned this post in 1830 and made plans to sail for exile in Europe. On December 17, 1830, however, Simón Bolívar died in Santa Marta, Colombia, after a battle with tuberculosis.
Today, Simón Bolívar's legacy can be seen in the multitude of statues and plaza squares bearing his likeness throughout South and North America. Several cities and towns throughout the United States share his last name and statues and roads bearing his name can be found everywhere from Egypt, Australia and Turkey.
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