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British travelogues of independence-era Spanish America

British travellers, soldiers, settlers, merchants, diplomats, artists and naval officers visited Spanish America during the independence period. Many recorded their impressions in memoirs and travelogues.

These accounts reveal British attitudes towards revolutionary Spanish America and reflect an interest in changing circumstances, indigenous groups, the revolutions, geographical wonders, burgeoning patriotic culture and everyday life. Some observers illustrated their texts with engravings and sketches.

enlarged image Enlarged image Source: Sketch by Maria Graham, Journal of a residence in Chile, during the year 1822; and a voyage from Chile to Brazil, in 1823. (Appendix. A ... relation of facts ... connected with the family of the Carreras, in Chile; with some account of the last expedition of Brigadier-General ... J. M. Carrera ... by M. Yates.), London, 1824, p. 268.
Streets of San Domingo

Image: Streets of San Domingo, Santiago de Chile with Flags [BL 567.h.21.]

Caption: In 1821 Maria Graham accompanied her second husband, naval officer Thomas Graham, to South America. He died in Chile in 1822 and Maria Graham declined to return to Britain, remaining in the country until departing for Brazil later that year.

Extract: "This event brings us within a very few years of the period when the South American colonies of Spain began to claim, first, equal privileges with the mother country....." read full excerpt read full exerpt

enlarged image Enlarged image Source: Gilbert Farquhar Mathison, Narrative of a Visit to Brazil, Chile, Peru and the Sandwich Islands during the years 1821 and 1822. With miscellaneous remarks on the past and present state, and political prospects of those countries, p. 233.
Females of Lima

Image: Females of Lima [BL 10492.dd.10.]

Caption: "The annexed drawing exhibits a lady dressed according to the national costume, and in the act of pulling back the manto to accost an acquaintance, who is dressed in another costume, most usually worn at night. The sash across the shoulders is the Banda Patriotica, as recently worn by some females in honour of the newly established patriotic government." p. 233.

enlarged image Enlarged image Source: [John Constance Davies?] Letters from Buenos Ayres and Chili, with an original history of the latter country. Illustrated with engravings. By the author of Letters from Paraguay , London, 1819, title page.
A Cacique in his Dress of Ceremony

Image: A Cacique in his Dress of Ceremony [BL 279.k.13.]

enlarged image Enlarged image Source: William Bullock, Six Months in Mexico; containing remarks on the present state of New Spain, its natural productions, state of society, manufactures, trade, agriculture, and antiquities, &c. with plates and maps, London, 1824, p. 78.
Superior Indians in the Holyday Dresses

Image: Superior Indians in the Holyday Dresses, p. 78 [BL 917.2 *632* DSC]

Caption: “As we approached Puebla, we met several groups of Indians, making a much more respectable appearance than any we had before seen; they were provided with candles, fire-works, artificial flowers, shrubs, &c., it being the eve of Palm Sunday: these were the preparations for the approaching festival of Easter.”

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Indian Water Carrier & Female Brush - Wood Carrier Male and Female Indians of the Malaba

Image: Indian Water Carrier & Female Brush-Wood Carrier, of Quito, p. 260 (vol. 2) [BL 1050.h.19-21]

Image: Male and Female Indians of the Malaba, p. 385 (vol. 2) [BL 1050.h.19-21]
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Source: William Bennet Stevenson, A Historical and Descriptive Narrative of Twenty Years’ Residence in South America ... containing travels in Arauco, Chile, Peru, and Columbia; with an account of the revolution, its rise, progress, and results, London, 1825, 3 vols.

Chilean Farmer

Image: Chilean Farmer, title page (vol. 3) [BL 1050.h.19-21]

enlarged image Enlarged image Source: James H. Robinson, Journal of an expedition 1400 miles up the Orinoco, London, 1822, p. 139.
A native soldier

Image: A Native Soldier, p. 139 [BL 1050.h.14]

Extract: General Monagas' Army

These squalid troops presented a very motley group. They were of every age, from eight years to fifty, or even more. Some were completely naked; some had a hair rope bound round their body, to which was attached a piece of cloth, behind and before, which passes between the thighs, called Yayuco, or Guayuco; some had a jacket; some, a kind of short...." read full excerpt read full exerpt

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Cathedral and Decorations of the Public Fountain, Lima Great Plaza, Lima

Image: Cathedral and Decorations of the Public Fountain, Lima, 28th July or Independence Day [BL 1784.a.14]

Image: Great Plaza, Lima during the Celebration, 28th July or Independence Day [BL 1784.a.14]

Source: Alexander Gardner, Rays of Sunlight from South America, Washington, D.C., 1867.

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Introduction
The origins of the independence movement
in Spanish America
The Spanish American republics
Britain and Spanish American independence

British travelogues of independence-era
Spanish America

 
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