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Bolivar Simon

Bolivar, Simon, surnamed "El Liberador," statesman and general - the Washington of South America - born at Caraccas (Venezuela) 1783. After studying at Madrid he travelled in Europe, and having imbibed the revolutionary principles which were triumphing in France he returned to his country with the determination to free it from Spanish domination. In 1812 he embarked on the war of Independence, taking service as colonel under Miranda. Failing at first, he eventually gained several victories over General Monteverde, and finally drove him out of Venezuela. Made Dictator of this province, he had a severe struggle with the bands of slaves and brigands who infested it, and above all with the llaneros - those Tartars of the American steppes - whom the Spaniards had succeeded in enlisting against the cause of Independence, and it was not till 1819 that he was able to free New Granada and Venezuela and see them united under the name of the Columbian Republic, of which he was made President with dictatorial power. At the summons of the revolted Peruvians he drove out the Spaniards and set free Upper Peru, which now received the name of Bolivia, and the grateful Peruvians also made him Dictator. In 1824 the freedom of the South American Republics was consolidated by mutual alliances and by their official recognition by Great Britain, Holland, and the United States. In 1824 Bolivar summoned a congress of the States at Panama, hoping to form a powerful confederation of Republics. In this hope he was disappointed, and his latter days were embittered by the occurrence of internal struggles and factious struggles in Colombia, and the envy of his foes caused him to be accused of tyranny. Several times he laid down his dictatorship and was forced by the people to resume it; but at last, disgusted and wearied out by their caprices, he determined to resign it once and for all, and to leave his country. "The presence," said he, "of a successful soldier, however disinterested he may be, is always dangerous in a State that is new to freedom." He had already made all his preparations for departure when he died of fever at Santa Marta, 17th December, 1830. Perhaps Bolivar's greatest quality was his spirit of self-sacrifice. Far from reaping a rich harvest from the civil commotions, like many of his contemporaries, he lost his own patrimony by spending it for the State and turning his slaves into soldiers and citizens; and as Dictator, far from enriching himself, he reduced his own salary, and devoted the half of what remained to the widows and children of his dead comrades, and he also aided, with purse and influence, Mr. Lancaster in his efforts to establish his system of education in Colombia. As a soldier he was remarkable for his indomitable pluck and elasticity in reverses; and for his audacious rapidity of movement, and the various types of soldier over whom he held wonderful sway, he has not inaptly been compared with Hannibal. As a statesman he laid the foundation of Colombian credit and political power, and had it not been that his creative genius was far in advance of his country and his times, The lot of the South American Republics might have been a far happier and more united one than we see it now.