Sneha Girap (Editor)

Simón Bolívar

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Succeeded by

1.68 m

Simon Bolivar

Succeeded by
Domingo Caycedo

Preceded by

Simon Bolivar PetroCaribe Summit Jamaica Information Service

Preceded by
Francisco de Miranda(As 3rd President of the First Republic of Venezuela)

Succeeded by
Jose Antonio Paez(As 1st President of Venezuela)

Vice President
Francisco de Paula Santander

Former President of Bolivia

December 17, 1830, Santa Marta, Colombia

Maria Teresa Rodriguez del Toro y Alaysa (m. 1802–1803)

Juan Vicente Bolivar y Ponte, Maria de la Concepcion Palacios y Blanco

Juana Bolivar, Juan Vicente Bolivar, Maria Antonia Bolivar, Maria del Carmen Bolivar

José de San Martín, Antonio José de Sucre, Toussaint Louverture

Simo n boli var i reverberations extra history

Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios ([siˈmon boˈliβar]; 24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830), known as El Libertador, was a Venezuelan military and political leader who played a leading role in the establishment of Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama as sovereign states, independent of Spanish rule.


Simón Bolívar The Socialist The Life and Legacy of Simon Bolivar

Bolívar was born into a wealthy, aristocratic Creole family and, like others of his day, was educated abroad at a young age, arriving in Spain when he was 16 and later on moving to France. While in Europe he was introduced to the ideas of Enlightenment philosophers, which gave him the ambition to replace the Spanish as rulers. Taking advantage of the disorder in Spain prompted by the Peninsular War, Bolívar began his campaign for independence in 1808, appealing to the wealthy Creole population through a conservative process, and established an organized national congress within three years. Despite a number of hindrances, including the arrival of an unprecedentedly large Spanish expeditionary force, the revolutionaries eventually prevailed, culminating in a patriot victory at the Battle of Carabobo in 1821, which effectively made Venezuela an independent country.

Simón Bolívar wwwbiographyonlinenetwpcontentuploads201405

Following this triumph over the Spanish monarchy, Bolívar participated in the foundation of the first union of independent nations in Latin America, Gran Colombia, of which he was president from 1819 to 1830. Through further military campaigns, he ousted Spanish rulers from Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia (which was named after him). He was simultaneously president of Gran Colombia (current Venezuela, Colombia, Panamá and Ecuador) and Peru, while his second in command Antonio José de Sucre was appointed president of Bolivia. He aimed at a strong and united Spanish America able to cope not only with the threats emanating from Spain and the European Holy Alliance but also with the emerging power of the United States. At the peak of his power, Bolívar ruled over a vast territory from the Argentine border to the Caribbean Sea.

Simón Bolívar What really killed Simn Bolvar OUPBlog

Bolívar is, along with Argentine General José de San Martín, considered one of the great heroes of the Hispanic independence movements of the early 19th century.

Simón Bolívar PowToon Simon Bolivar

At the end of his life, Bolívar despaired of the situation in the region, with the famous quote "all who served the revolution have plowed the sea". Earlier, in an address to the Constituent Congress of the Republic of Colombia, Bolivar stated "Fellow citizens! I blush to say this: Independence is the only benefit we have acquired, to the detriment of all the rest."

Sim n bol var ii francisco de miranda extra history

Origin of Bolívar surname

Simón Bolívar Simon Bolivar Biography YouTube

The surname Bolívar originated with aristocrats from La Puebla de Bolívar, a small village in the Basque Country of Spain. Bolívar's father came from the female line of the Ardanza family. His maternal grandmother was descended from families from the Canary Islands.

16th century

The Bolívars settled in Venezuela in the 16th century. Bolívar's first South American ancestor was Simón de Bolívar (or Simon de Bolibar; the spelling was not standardized until the 19th century), who lived and worked with the governor of Santo Domingo from 1559 to 1560. When the governor was reassigned to Venezuela by the Spanish Crown in 1569, Simón de Bolívar went with him. As an early settler in Spain's Venezuela Province, he became prominent in the local society, and he and his descendants were granted estates, encomiendas, and positions in the local cabildo.

Simón Bolívar Simon Bolivar Biography Childhood Life Achievements amp Timeline

When Caracas Cathedral was built in 1569, the Bolívar family had one of the first dedicated side chapels. The majority of the wealth of Simón de Bolívar's descendants came from the estates. The most important was a sugar plantation with an encomienda that provided the labor needed to run the estate. Another portion of the Bolívars' wealth came from silver, gold, and copper mines. Small gold deposits were first mined in Venezuela in 1669, leading to the discovery of much more extensive copper deposits. From his mother's side (the Palacios family), Bolívar inherited the Aroa copper mines at Cocorote. Native American and African slaves provided the majority of the labor in these mines.

17th century

Toward the end of the 17th century, copper mining became so prominent in Venezuela that the metal became known as cobre Caracas ("Caracas copper"). Many of the mines became the property of the Bolívar family. Bolívar's grandfather, Juan de Bolívar y Martínez de Villegas, paid 22,000 ducats to the monastery at Santa Maria de Montserrat in 1728 for a title of nobility that had been granted by the king, Philip V of Spain, for its maintenance. The crown never issued the patent of nobility, and so the purchase became the subject of lawsuits that were still in progress during Bolívar's lifetime, when independence from Spain made the point moot. (If the lawsuits had been successful, Bolívar's older brother, Juan Vicente, would have become the Marquess of San Luis and Viscount of Cocorote.) Bolívar ultimately devoted his personal fortune to the revolution. Having been one of the wealthiest persons within the Spanish American world at the beginning of the revolution he died in poverty.


Simón Bolívar was born in a house in Caracas, Captaincy General of Venezuela, on 24 July 1783. He was baptized as Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios. His mother was María de la Concepción Palacios y Blanco, and his father was Colonel Don Juan Vicente Bolívar y Ponte. He had two older sisters and a brother: María Antonia, Juana, and Juan Vicente. Another sister, María del Carmen, died at birth.

When Bolívar was an infant, he was cared for by Doña Ines Manceba de Miyares and the family's slave, Hipólita. A couple of years later, he returned to the care of his parents, but this experience would have a major effect on his life. His father died before Bolívar's third birthday, and his mother died when he was almost nine.

After his mother's death, Bolívar was placed in the custody of an instructor, Miguel José Sanz, but this relationship did not work out and he was sent back home. He went on to receive private lessons from the renowned professors Andrés Bello, Guillermo Pelgrón, Jose Antonio Negrete, Fernando Vides, Father Andújar, and Don Simón Rodríguez, formerly known as Simón Carreño, Don Simón Rodríguez became Bolívar's teacher, friend and mentor. He taught him how to swim and ride horses while, at the same time, taught him about liberty, human rights, politics, history, and sociology. Later in life Rodríguez was to be pivotal in Bolivar's decision to start the revolution, instilling in him the ideas of liberty, enlightenment, and freedom.

In the meantime, Bolívar was mostly cared for by his nurse, the slave Hipólita, whom he later called "the only mother I have known".


When Bolívar was fourteen, Don Simón Rodríguez had to leave the country after being accused of involvement in a conspiracy against the Spanish government in Caracas. Bolívar then entered the military academy of the Milicias de Aragua. In 1800 he was sent to Spain to follow his military studies in Madrid, where he remained until 1802. Back in Europe in 1804 he lived in France and travelled to different countries. While in Paris, he witnessed the coronation of Napoleon in Notre Dame, an event that left a profound impression on him. Even if he disagreed with the crowning he was highly sensitive to the popular veneration inspired by the hero.

Prelude, 1807-1810

Bolívar returned to Venezuela in 1807. After a coup on 19 April 1810, Venezuela achieved de facto independence when the Supreme Junta of Caracas was established and the colonial administrators deposed. The Supreme Junta sent a delegation to Great Britain to get British recognition and aid. This delegation presided by Bolívar also included two future Venezuelan notables Andrés Bello and Luis López Méndez. The trio met with Francisco de Miranda and persuaded him to return to his native land.

First Republic of Venezuela, 1811-1812

In 1811, a delegation from the Supreme Junta, also including Bolívar, and a crowd of commoners enthusiastically received Miranda in La Guaira. During the insurgence war conducted by Miranda, Bolívar was promoted to colonel and was made commandant of Puerto Cabello the following year, 1812. As Royalist Frigate Captain Domingo de Monteverde was advancing into republican territory from the west, Bolívar lost control of San Felipe Castle along with its ammunition stores on 30 June 1812. Bolívar then retreated to his estate in San Mateo.

Miranda saw the republican cause as lost and signed a capitulation agreement with Monteverde on 25 July, an action that Bolívar and other revolutionary officers deemed treasonous. In one of Bolívar's most morally dubious acts, he and others arrested Miranda and handed him over to the Spanish Royal Army at the port of La Guaira. For his apparent services to the Royalist cause, Monteverde granted Bolívar a passport, and Bolívar left for Curaçao on 27 August. It must be said, though, that Bolívar protested to the Spanish authorities about the reasons why he handled Miranda, insisting that he was not lending a service to the Crown but punishing a defector. In 1813, he was given a military command in Tunja, New Granada (modern-day Colombia), under the direction of the Congress of United Provinces of New Granada, which had formed out of the juntas established in 1810.

Second Republic of Venezuela, 1813-1814. Exile in 1815

This was the beginning of the Admirable Campaign. On 24 May, Bolívar entered Mérida, where he was proclaimed El Libertador ("The Liberator"). This was followed by the occupation of Trujillo on 9 June. Six days later, on 15 June, Bolívar dictated his famous "Decree of War to the Death", allowing the killing of any Spaniard not actively supporting independence. Caracas was retaken on 6 August 1813, and Bolívar was ratified as El Libertador, establishing the Second Republic of Venezuela. The following year, because of the rebellion of José Tomás Boves and the fall of the republic, Bolívar returned to New Granada, where he commanded a force for the United Provinces.

His forces entered Bogotá in 1814 and recaptured the city from the dissenting republican forces of Cundinamarca. Bolívar intended to march into Cartagena and enlist the aid of local forces in order to capture the Royalist town of Santa Marta. In 1815, however, after a number of political and military disputes with the government of Cartagena, Bolívar fled to Jamaica, where he was denied support. After an assassination attempt in Jamaica, he fled to Haiti, where he was granted protection. He befriended Alexandre Pétion, the president of the newly independent country, and petitioned him for aid.

Campaigns in Venezuela, 1816-1818

In 1816, with Haitian soldiers and vital material support, Bolívar landed in Venezuela and fulfilled his promise to Pétion to free Spanish America's slaves on 2 June 1816.

In July 1817, on a second expedition, he captured Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar) after defeating the counter-attack of Miguel de la Torre. However, Venezuela remained a captaincy of Spain after the victory in 1818 by Pablo Morillo in the second battle of La Puerta.

Liberation of New Granada and Venezuela, 1819-1821

On 15 February 1819, Bolívar was able to open the Second National Congress in Angostura, in which he was elected president and Francisco Antonio Zea was elected vice president. Bolívar then decided that he would first fight for the independence of New Granada, to gain resources of the vice royalty, intending later to consolidate the independence of Venezuela.

The campaign for the independence of New Granada was consolidated with the victory at the Battle of Boyacá on 7 August 1819. Bolivar returned to Angostura, where congress passed a law forming the Republic of Greater Colombia on 17 December, making Bolivar president and Zea vice president, with Francisco de Paula Santander vice president on the New Granada side, and Juan Germán Roscio vice president on the Venezuela side.

Morillo was left in control of Caracas and the coastal highlands. After the restoration of the Cadiz Constitution, Morillo ratified two treaties with Bolivar on 25 Nov. 1820, calling for a six-month armistice and recognizing Bolivar as president of the republic. Bolivar and Morillo met in San Fernando de Apure on 27 November, after which Morillo left Venezuela for Spain, leaving La Torre in command.

From his newly consolidated base of power, Bolívar launched outright independence campaigns in Venezuela and Ecuador. These campaigns concluded with the victory at the Battle of Carabobo, after which Bolívar triumphantly entered Caracas on 29 June 1821. On 7 September 1821, the Gran Colombia (a state covering much of modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela) was created, with Bolívar as president and Santander as vice president.

Ecuador and Peru, 1822-1824

Bolívar followed with the Battle of Bombona and the Battle of Pichincha, after which he entered Quito on 16 June 1822. On 26 and 27 July 1822, Bolívar held the Guayaquil Conference with the Argentine General José de San Martín, who had received the title of "Protector of Peruvian Freedom" in August 1821 after partially liberating Peru from the Spanish. Thereafter, Bolívar took over the task of fully liberating Peru.

The Peruvian congress named him dictator of Peru on 10 February 1824, which allowed Bolívar to reorganize completely the political and military administration. Assisted by Antonio José de Sucre, Bolívar decisively defeated the Spanish cavalry at the Battle of Junín on 6 August 1824. Sucre destroyed the still numerically superior remnants of the Spanish forces at Ayacucho on 9 December 1824.

The Republic of Bolivia

On 6 August 1825, at the Congress of Upper Peru, the "Republic of Bolivia" was created. Bolívar is thus one of the few people to have a country named after him. Bolivar returned to Caracas on 12 January 1827, and then back to Bogotá on 10 September 1827 to assume absolute power. He set the date of the constituent congress, 2 January 1830, as the day he would surrender power.

Bolívar had great difficulties maintaining control of the vast Gran Colombia. In 1826, internal divisions sparked dissent throughout the nation, and regional uprisings erupted in Venezuela. The new South American union had revealed its fragility and appeared to be on the verge of collapse. To preserve the union, an amnesty was declared and an arrangement was reached with the Venezuelan rebels, but this increased the political dissent in neighboring New Granada. In an attempt to keep the nation together as a single entity, Bolívar called for a constitutional convention at Ocaña in March 1828.

Struggles inside Gran Colombia

Bolívar thought that a federation like the one founded in the United States was unworkable in the Spanish America. For this reason, and to prevent a break-up, Bolívar sought to implement a more centralist model of government in Gran Colombia, including some or all of the elements of the Bolivian constitution he had written, which included a lifetime presidency with the ability to select a successor (although this presidency was to be held in check by an intricate system of balances).

This move was considered controversial in New Granada and was one of the reasons for the deliberations, which met from 9 April to 10 June 1828. The convention almost ended up drafting a document which would have implemented a radically federalist form of government, which would have greatly reduced the powers of a central administration. The federalist faction was able to command a majority for the draft of a new constitution which has definite federal characteristics despite its ostensibly centralist outline. Unhappy with what would be the ensuing result, pro-Bolívar delegates withdrew from the convention, leaving it moribund.

Two months after the failure of this congress to write a new constitution, Bolívar was declared president-liberator in Colombia's "Organic Decree". He considered this as a temporary measure, as a means to reestablish his authority and save the republic, although it increased dissatisfaction and anger among his political opponents. An assassination attempt on 25 September 1828 failed (in Spanish it is indeed known as the Noche Septembrina), thanks to the help of his lover, Manuela Sáenz. Bolívar afterward described Manuela as "Liberatrix of the Liberator". Dissent continued, and uprisings occurred in New Granada, Venezuela, and Ecuador during the next two years.

Bolivar initially tried to forgive those who were considered as conspirators, members of the "Santander" faction. Eventually it was decided to submit them to martial justice, after which the accused of being the direct involved, had to be shot, some without being fully established their responsibility. The same general Santander, who had known in advance of the conspiracy and had not directly opposed her because of his differences with Bolivar, set out into exile.

After the facts, Bolivar who suffering from tuberculosis continued to govern in a rarefied environment, cornered by fractional disputes and uprisings occurred in New Granada, Venezuela, and Ecuador during the next two years. The separatists accused him of betraying republican principles and of wanting to establish a permanent dictatorship. . In this situation, the Gran Colombia declared the war to Peru when the president of this country the General La Mar invaded Guayaquil who was defeated by the Marechal Antonio José de Sucre in the Battle of the Portete de Tarqui 27 February, 1829. Sucre was killed on June 4, 1830. The general Juan José Flores wanted to separate the southern departments (Quito, Guayaquil, and Azuay), called the District of Ecuador, from the Gran Colombia so as to form an independent country and become its first President. Venezuela was proclaimed independent on January 13 of 1830 and José Antonio Páez held the presidency of that country banishing Bolivar.

Dissolution of the Gran Colombia

For Bolivar, Hispanic America was the fatherland. He dreamed of a united Spanish America and in the pursuit of that purpose he not only created Gran Colombia but also the Confederation of the Andes which was to gather the latter together with Peru and Bolivia. Moreover, he envisaged and promoted a network of treaties that would hold together the newly liberated Hispanic American countries. Nonetheless he was unable to control the centrifugal process that pushed in all directions.

On January 20, 1830, as his dream fell apart, Bolívar delivered his last address to the nation, announcing that he would be stepping down from the presidency of Gran Colombia. In his speech, a distraught Bolívar urged the people to maintain the union and to be wary of the intentions of those who advocated for separation. At the time, "Colombians" referred to the people of Gran Colombia (Venezuela, New Granada, and Ecuador), not modern-day Colombia:

Bolívar ultimately failed in his attempt to prevent the collapse of the union. Gran Colombia was dissolved later that year and was replaced by the republics of Venezuela, New Granada, and Ecuador. Ironically, these countries were established as centralist nations, and would be governed for decades this way by leaders who, during Bolívar's last years, had accused him of betraying republican principles and of wanting to establish a permanent dictatorship. These separatists, among them José Antonio Páez and Francisco de Paula Santander, had justified their opposition to Bolívar for this reason and publicly denounced him as a monarch. Some of them had in the past been accused of plotting against Bolívar's life (Santander, who governed the second centralist government of New Granada, was associated with the September Conspiracy).

José María Obando, who led the first dictatorship of New Granada, had been linked to the assassination of Antonio José de Sucre in 1830. Sucre was regarded by some as a political threat because of his popularity after he led a resounding patriot victory at the Battle of Ayacucho, ending the war against the Spanish Empire in South America. Bolívar also considered him his direct successor and had attempted to make him vice president of Gran Colombia after Santander was exiled in 1828.


For the rest of the 19th century and into the early 20th century, the political environment of Latin America was fraught with civil wars and characterized by a sociopolitical phenomenon known as caudillismo. This was characterized by the arrival of an authoritarian but charismatic political figure who would typically rise to power in an unconventional way, often legitimizing his right to govern through undemocratic processes. These caudillos would maintain their control primarily on the basis of their personality, and a skewed interpretation of their popularity and what constituted a majority among the masses. In his deathbed Bolívar envisaged the emergence of countless "caudillos" competing for the pieces of the great nation he once dreamed about.

Final months and death

Saying that "all who served the revolution have plowed the sea", Bolívar finally resigned the presidency on 27 April 1830, intending to leave the country for exile in Europe. He had already sent several crates containing his belongings and writings ahead of him to Europe, but he died before setting sail from Cartagena.

On 17 December 1830, at the age of 47, Simón Bolívar died of tuberculosis in the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino in Santa Marta, Gran Colombia (now Colombia). On his deathbed, Bolívar asked his aide-de-camp, General Daniel F. O'Leary, to burn the remaining, extensive archive of his writings, letters, and speeches. O'Leary disobeyed the order and his writings survived, providing historians with a wealth of information about Bolívar's liberal philosophy and thought, as well as details of his personal life, such as his long love affair with Manuela Sáenz. Shortly before her own death in 1856, Sáenz augmented this collection by giving O'Leary her own letters from Bolívar.

His remains were buried in the cathedral of Santa Marta. Twelve years later, in 1842, at the request of President José Antonio Páez, they were moved from Santa Marta to Caracas where they were buried in the cathedral of Caracas together with the remains of his wife and parents. In 1876 he was moved to a monument set up for his interment at the National Pantheon of Venezuela. The Quinta near Santa Marta has been preserved as a museum with numerous references to his life. In 2010, symbolic remains of Bolívar's later years lover, Manuela Sáenz, were also interred in Venezuela's National Pantheon.

On January 2008, then-President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez set up a commission to investigate theories that Bolívar was the victim of an assassination. On several occasions, Chávez has claimed that Bolívar was in fact poisoned by "New Granada traitors". In April 2010, infectious diseases specialist Paul Auwaerter studied records of Bolívar's symptoms and concluded that he might have suffered from chronic arsenic poisoning, but that both acute poisoning and murder were unlikely. In July 2010, Bolívar's body was ordered to be exhumed to advance the investigations. In July 2011, international forensics experts released their report claiming that there was no proof of poisoning or other unnatural cause of death.


In 1799, following the early deaths of his father Juan Vicente (dead since 1786) and his mother Concepción (who died in 1792), he traveled to Mexico, France, and Spain, at the age of sixteen years, to complete his education. While in Madrid during 1802 and after a two-year courtship, he married María Teresa Rodríguez del Toro y Alaiza, who was to be his only wife. She was related to the aristocratic families of the marquis del Toro of Caracas and the marquis de Inicio of Madrid.

Eight months after returning to Venezuela with him, she died from yellow fever on January 22, 1803. Bolivar was so devastated by this loss that his relatives feared for his life. He swore never to marry again, a promise he kept. Many years later Bolívar would refer to the death of his wife as the turning point of his life. Indeed, many years later, in 1828, he told Luis Perú de Lacroix the following words:

In 1804, he traveled again to Europe in an attempt to ease his pain and began falling into a dissolute life. It was then that he met again with his old teacher Simón Rodríguez in Paris who little by little was able to transform his acute depression into a sense of commitment towards a greater cause: the independence of Venezuela. He lived in Napoleonic France for a while and undertook the Grand Tour. During this time in Europe, Bolívar met Alexander von Humboldt in Rome, Humboldt later writing: "I was wrong back then, when I judged him a puerile man, incapable of realizing so grand an ambition."

Affairs and lovers

It is well known that Bolívar had several love affairs during his lifetime; most of them were ephemeral and did not last long. Some of them were known by Bolívar's during his presence in Europe, after his short marriage that ended in 1803. Historians, scholars and biographers often agree with the names of the most prominent women who stood with Bolívar, either at war or at peace: Josefina "Pepita" Machado, Fanny du Villars and Manuela Sáenz.

Manuela Sáenz was the most important of those women, mainly because she was Bolívar's lover in later life during his presidency in the Gran Colombia, but also due the fact that she became a trustworthy confidant and advisor. Moreover, Manuela saved Bolívar's life during the September Conspiracy of 1828, in which the Libertador was close to be killed in Bogotá. That is, Manuela managed to divert the assassins and thus gave Bolívar time to escape from his room.

Bolívar and Manuela met in Quito, on June 22, 1822. They had a long-term relationship that was controversial at the time due the fact that Manuela was already married with James Thorne, although she was estranged from him since 1822 because of irreconcilable differences with her husband. Thus, Manuela was emotionally tied with Bolívar, whose death in 1830 made her try to commit suicide once she knew of the Libertador's physical disappearance.

Notwithstanding this mutual love, Bolívar and Manuela did not always have a face-to-face relationship, although they sometimes lived in the same South American cities, for example in Bogotá during his political issues in 1828. They indeed showed their romance through written correspondence. In this regard, few letters of both of them have been found, and most of those attibuted by Heinz Dieterich, Carlos Álvarez Saá and a book edited by Fundación Editorial El Perro y la Rana publishing house in 2007 have been denounced as forgeries.

Ducoudray Holstein's description of Bolívar

In his Memoirs of Simón Bolívar, Henri La Fayette Villaume Ducoudray Holstein (who himself has been called a "not-always-reliable and never impartial witness") described the young Bolívar as he was attempting to seize power in Venezuela and New Granada in 1814–1816. Ducoudray Holstein joined Bolívar and served on his staff as officer and Bolívar's confident during this period.

He describes Bolívar as a coward who repeatedly abandoned his military commission in front of the enemy, and also as a great lover of women, being accompanied at all times by two or more of his mistresses during the military operations. He would not hesitate to stop the fleet transporting the whole army and bound for Margarita Island during two days in order to wait for his mistress to join his ship. According to Ducoudray Holstein, Bolívar behaved essentially as an opportunist preferring intrigues and secret manipulation to an open fight. He was also deemed incompetent in military matters, systematically avoiding any risks and permanently anxious for his own safety.

In the Diario de Bucaramanga, Bolívar's opinion of Ducoudray is presented when Louis Peru de Lacroix asked who had been Bolívar's aides-de-camp since he had been general; he mentioned Charles Eloi Demarquet and Ducoudray. Bolívar confirmed the first but denied the second, saying that he had met him in 1815 and accepted his services, even admitting him to his General Staff, but "I never trusted him enough to make him my aide-de-camp; to the contrary, I had a very unfavorable idea of his person and his services", and that Ducoudray's departure after only a brief stay had been a "real pleasure."

Karl Marx's description of Bolívar

In an unsympathetic biography titled Bolívar y Ponte, Simón, published in the New American Cyclopedia, Karl Marx criticized much of Bolívar's life. Marx begins saying that Bolívar was born to a family of "creole nobility in Venezuela" and that similar to the "custom of wealthy Americans of those times, at the early age of 14 he was sent to Europe". Throughout Marx's piece, he explains how Bolívar abandoned his troops multiple times as well. Marx also explains how Bolívar had to be persuaded by his cousin Ribas to return to fight against the Spanish after staying at Cartagena. Marx then explains that after arriving in Caracas in 1813, Bolívar's "dictatorship soon proved a military anarchy, leaving the most important affairs in the hands of favorites, who squandered the finances of the country, and then resorted to odious means in order to restore them". At the conclusion of the biography, Marx uses Ducoudray Holstein's description of Bolívar.

According to Beddow and Thibodeaux, Marx called Bolívar a "falsifier, deserter, conspirator, liar, coward and looter", stating that Marx dismissed Bolívar as a "false liberator who merely sought to preserve the power of the old Creole nobility which he belonged".


Bolívar had no children, possibly because of infertility caused by having contracted measles and mumps as a child. His closest living relatives descend from his sisters and brother. One of his sisters died in infancy. His sister Juana Bolívar y Palacios married their maternal uncle, Dionisio Palacios y Blanco, and had two children, Guillermo and Benigna. Guillermo Palacios died fighting alongside his uncle Simón in the battle of La Hogaza on 2 December 1817. Benigna had two marriages, the first to Pedro Briceño Méndez and the second to Pedro Amestoy. Their great-grandchildren, Bolívar's closest living relatives, Pedro, and Eduardo Mendoza Goiticoa lived in Caracas, as of 2009. The family still lives in Caracas today.

His eldest sister, María Antonia, married Pablo Clemente Francia and had four children: Josefa, Anacleto, Valentina, and Pablo. María Antonia became Bolívar's agent to deal with his properties while he served as president of Gran Colombia and she was an executrix of his will. She retired to Bolívar's estate in Macarao, which she inherited from him.

His older brother, Juan Vicente, who died in 1811 on a diplomatic mission to the United States, had three children born out of wedlock whom he recognized: Juan, Fernando Simón, and Felicia Bolívar Tinoco. Bolívar provided for the children and their mother after his brother's death. Bolívar was especially close to Fernando and in 1822 sent him to study in the United States, where he attended the University of Virginia. In his long life, Fernando had minor participation in some of the major political events of Venezuelan history and also traveled and lived extensively throughout Europe. He had three children, Benjamín Bolívar Gauthier, Santiago Hernández Bolívar, and Claudio Bolívar Taraja. Fernando died in 1898 at the age of 88.


Simón Bolívar was an admirer of both the American and the French Revolutions. Bolívar even enrolled his nephew, Fernando Bolívar, in a private school in Philadelphia, Germantown Academy, and paid for his education, including attendance at Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia. Bolívar differed, however, in political philosophy from the leaders of the revolution in the United States on two important matters. First of all, he was staunchly anti-slavery, despite coming from an area of Spanish America that relied heavily on slave labor. Second, while he was an admirer of the American independence, he did not believe that its governmental system could work in Latin America. Thus, he claimed that the governance of heterogeneous societies like Venezuela "will require a firm hand".

Bolívar felt that the U.S. had been established in land especially fertile for democracy. By contrast, he referred to Spanish America as having been subject to the "triple yoke of ignorance, tyranny, and vice". If a republic could be established in such a land, in his mind, it would have to make some concessions in terms of liberty. This is shown when Bolívar blamed the fall of the first republic on his subordinates trying to imitate "some ethereal republic" and in the process, not paying attention to the gritty political reality of South America.

Among the books accompanying him as he traveled were Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, Voltaire's Letters and, when he was writing the Bolivian constitution, Montesquieu's The Spirit of the Laws. His Bolivian constitution placed him within the camp of what would become Latin American conservatism in the later nineteenth century. The Bolivian constitution intended to establish a lifelong presidency and a hereditary senate, essentially recreating the British unwritten constitution, as it existed at the time.


Similarly to some others in the history of American Independence (George Washington, Miguel Hidalgo, José de San Martín, Bernardo O'Higgins and Francisco de Miranda), Simón Bolívar was a Freemason. He was initiated in 1803 in the Masonic Lodge Lautaro, which operated in Cádiz, Spain. It was in this lodge that he first met some of his revolutionary peers, such as José de San Martín. In May 1806 he was conferred the rank of Master Mason in the "Scottish Mother of St. Alexander of Scotland" in Paris. During his time in London, he frequented "The Great American Reunion" lodge in London, founded by Francisco de Miranda. In April 1824, Simón Bolívar was given the 33rd degree of Inspector General Honorary.

Political legacy

Due to the historical relevance of Bolívar as a key element during the process of independence in Hispanic America, his memory has been strongly attached to sentiments of nationalism and patriotism, being a recurrent theme of rhetoric in politics, especially in Venezuela. For instance, the nationalist government led by Marcos Pérez Jiménez and the socialist political movement led by Hugo Chávez in Venezuela both prominently utilize the memory, image and written legacy of Bolívar as important parts of their political messages and propaganda. Since the image of Bolívar became an important part to the national identities of Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, his mantle is often claimed by Hispanic American politicians all across the political spectrum.

Monuments and physical legacy

The nations of Bolivia and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Venezuela), and their respective currencies (the Bolivian boliviano and the Venezuelan bolívar), are all named after Bolívar. Additionally, most cities and towns in Venezuela are built around a main square known as Plaza Bolívar, as is the case with Bogotá. In this example, most governmental buildings and public structures are located on or around the plaza, including the National Capitol and the Palace of Justice. Busts and statues in his memory can be found around the world, including in the capital cities of Quito, Lima, Washington, D.C., Algiers, Paris, Sofia, Ottawa, London, Bucharest, Havana, Ankara, Paris, Teheran, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Prague, New Delhi, Port-au-Prince, Santo Domingo, Paramaribo, Sucre, Buenos Aires, San José, etc.

In Bogotá, the Simón Bolívar Park has hosted many concerts.

Outside of Latin America, the variety of monuments to Simón Bolívar are a continuing testament to his legacy. These include statues in many capitals around the world. Several cities in Spain, especially in the Basque Country, have constructed monuments to Bolívar, including a large monument in Bilbao and a comprehensive Venezuelan government-funded museum in Bolívar, his ancestral hometown. An imposing bronze equestrian statue of Simón Bolívar at the entrance to Central Park at the Avenue of the Americas in New York City also celebrates Bolívar's contributions to Latin America.

Monuments to Bolívar's military legacy also comprise one of Venezuelan Navy's sail training barques, which is named after him, and the USS Simon Bolivar, a Benjamin Franklin-class fleet ballistic missile submarine which served with the U.S. Navy between 1965 and 1995.

The Bolivar Peninsula in Galveston County, Texas is named for Bolívar. It is major part of the Texas coastline. The Peninsula partially covers Galveston Bay and also has a namesake ferry which goes to Galveston Island.

Bolivar County, Mississippi is named for Bolívar.

The town and village of Bolivar, New York is also named for Bolívar.

In the United Kingdom, in the south west of England there was a railway branch line in Devon running from Totnes to Ashburton. The one or two coach passenger train - the service was withdrawn on 3 November 1958 - was known locally as Bulliver. The branch had been opened in 1872, to Brunel's seven feet and a quarter inch broad gauge, to be converted to standard gauge in 1892. The name Bulliver was said to have been given by a local wit, assuming that Simon Bolivar had been not a South American political figure but one of the Spanish world seafarers. The branch was just eight and a half miles long. Today the section from Totnes to Buckfastleigh (Staverton being the only other intermediate station) is operated as a heritage line by the South Devon Railway.

  • Monuments
  • Bolívar's life was the basis of the 2013 film Libertador, starring Édgar Ramírez and directed by Alberto Arvelo.
  • Bolivar is the central character in Gabriel García Márquez's novel The General in His Labyrinth in which he is portrayed in a less heroic manner than most other parts of his legacy.
  • References

    Simón Bolívar Wikipedia