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Britain and Spanish American independence

British naval and military officers, soldiers, sailors and adventurers played a pivotal role in the wars fighting with the patriots and setting up the new republics: the feats of  Daniel O'Leary (Bolívar's closest companion), William Miller, Thomas Alexander Cochrane and Gregor MacGregor are legendary, not to mention Richard Vowell, Alexander Alexander and many others.

Great Britain was the first major nation in Europe to recognise the independence of the new countries in Spanish America. By taking this step, the British government wanted to protect the new formed nations against the threat of retaliation from Spain, establishing commercial links with these countries hitherto under the economic monopoly of the mother country. Spanish Americans welcomed this important international support. The institution of the republican regimes in the new Spanish America countries was heavily inspired by the British parliamentary system.

Raw materials and mineral resources, as well as investment opportunities and potential new markets for foreign products, attracted Britain to the Spanish American territories. Some of the fledgling states received British loans and signed trade agreements with Britain. Thousands of British merchants took up residence in Spanish America. Likewise, a number of Spanish Americans resided in London including the intellectual Andrés Bello and the revolutionary Francisco de Miranda, both from Caracas.

Spanish American independence movement was watched with interest in Britain and many related books were published in London.

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Simón Bolívar statue Simón Bolívar statue

Image: Simón Bolívar statue, Belgrave Square

Image: Simón Bolívar statue, Belgrave Square
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Andrés Bello and Francisco de Miranda’s home Francisco de Miranda statue

Image: Andrés Bello and Francisco de Miranda’s home, 58 Grafton Way

Image: Francisco de Miranda statue, Fitzroy Square
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Source (All above and left): Copyright © Prof. Catherine Davies

Bernardo O’Higgins statue

Image: Bernardo O’Higgins statue, O’Higgins Square, near Richmond Bridge

enlarged image Enlarged image Source: J. M. Antepara, South American Emancipation, London, 1810
Portrait of Francisco de Miranda

Image: Portrait of Francisco de Miranda (opening page) [BL 1446.h.4.279.k.7]

enlarged image Enlarged image Source: Andrés Bello, Poesías de Andrés Bello, Madrid, 1882
Centenario de nacimiento de Andres Bello

Image: Centenario de nacimiento de Andrés Bello [BL 1450.bb.14.]

enlarged image Enlarged image Source: José Joaquín de Olmedo, La Victoria de Junín, London, 1826.
Portrait of Simon Bolivar

Image: Portrait of Símon Bolívar [BL 11450.d.26.]

enlarged image Enlarged image Source: James Hackett, Narrative of the expedition which sailed from England in 1817, to join the South American Patriots, London, 1818.
Cover of Narrative of the expedition which sailed from England in 1817

Image: Cover of Narrative of the expedition which sailed from England in 1817 [BL 798.h.12.(4.)]

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Discover more:
Introduction
The origins of the independence movement
in Spanish America
The Spanish American republics
Britain and Spanish American independence
 
Mining in Mexico
Colonel Patrick Campbell
Bolívar's Triumphal March

British travelogues of independence-era
Spanish America

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