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Nation Building in Latin America
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Guide to Reading
Section PreviewLatin American countries served as asource of raw materials for Europe andthe United States.
• Revolutionary ideas in Latin Americawere sparked by the successes of revo-lutions in North America. (p. 363)
• After they became independent, LatinAmerican nations faced a staggeringrange of problems. (p. 365)
• Many Latin American governments pat-terned their new constitutions after theUnited States. (p. 368)
• Changes in the economies of LatinAmerican countries expanded the middle class. (p. 369)
Content Vocabularycreole, peninsulare, mestizo, MonroeDoctrine, caudillo
Academic Vocabularydominate, emphasis, expand
People to IdentifyJosé de San Martín, Simón Bolívar, Anto-nio López de Santa Anna, Benito Juárez
Places to Locate Puerto Rico, Panama Canal, Haiti,Nicaragua
Reading Objectives1. Explain how the American Revolution
inspired political changes in LatinAmerica.
2. Describe the challenges Latin Ameri-can nations faced in establishingrepresentative governments.
Reading StrategyCompare and Contrast Create a Venndiagram comparing and contrasting colo-nial rule in Africa and in Latin America.
California Standards in This SectionReading this section will help you master these California History–Social Science standards.
10.2.1: Compare the major ideas of philosophers andtheir effects on the democratic revolutions inEngland, the United States, France, and LatinAmerica (e.g., John Locke, Charles-Louis Mon-tesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Simón Bolívar,Thomas Jefferson, James Madison.
10.2.3: Understand the unique character of the Ameri-can Revolution, its spread to other parts of theworld, and its continuing significance to othernations.
10.4: Students analyze patterns of global change in theera of New Imperialism in at least two of the fol-lowing regions or countries: Africa, Southeast Asia,China, India, Latin America, and the Philippines.
10.4.1: Describe the rise of industrial economies andtheir link to imperialism and colonialism (e.g.,the role played by national security and strategicadvantage; moral issues raised by the search fornational hegemony, Social Darwinism, and themissionary impulse; material issues such as land,resources, and technology.)
10.4.2: Discuss the locations of the colonial rule of suchnations as England, France, Germany, Italy,Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Portugal,and the United States.
362 CHAPTER 6 The Height of Imperialism
Africa Latin America
1810Mexico experiencesits first revolt
✦1800 ✦1805 ✦1810 ✦1815 ✦1820 ✦1825 ✦1830
1825Most of Latin Americabecomes independent
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Revolutionary ideas in Latin America weresparked by the successes of revolutions in North America.
Reading Connection Can you name a famous and suc-cessful slave revolt? Learn how a revolt on Hispaniola led tothe creation of the first independent state in Latin America.
By the end of the eighteenth century, the newpolitical ideals stemming from the successful revolu-tion in North America were beginning to affect LatinAmerica, and European control would soon be inperil. One of the men who took the lead in liberatingSouth America from Spanish and Portuguese controlwas Simón Bolívar.
Many revolutionaries in South America were ide-alistic, just like the revolutionaries in the Britishcolonies. They wanted to amend society. The socialclass structure that existed in Latin America, how-ever, played a big role in how the revolutionsoccurred and what they achieved.
Social classes divided Latin America. Peninsulares,at the top, held all important positions. Creoles con-trolled land and business but were seen as second-class citizens by peninsulares. Mestizos were thelargest group but worked as servants or laborers.
Prelude to Revolution The creole elites were espe-cially influenced by revolutionary ideals. Creoles
were descendants of Europeans born in Latin Amer-ica and lived there permanently. They found theprinciples of the equality of all people in the eyes ofthe law, free trade, and a free press very attractive. Inaddition, they, along with a growing class of mer-chants, disliked the domination of their trade bySpain and Portugal.
Creoles deeply resented the peninsulares, Spanishand Portuguese officials who resided temporarily inLatin America for political and economic gain andthen returned to their mother countries. These Euro-peans dominated Latin America and drained theAmericas of their wealth.
The creole elites soon began to denounce the rule ofthe Spanish and Portuguese. At the beginning of thenineteenth century, Napoleon’s wars provided themwith an opportunity for change. When Napoleonoverthrew the monarchies of Spain and Portugal, theauthority of the Spaniards and Portuguese in theircolonial empires was severely weakened. Between1807 and 1825, revolutionary movements were ableto succeed against the Spanish and Portuguese. Mostof Latin America became independent.
Before the main independence movements began,an unusual revolution took place in the French colonyof Saint Domingue, on the island of Hispaniola. Ledby François-Dominique Toussaint-Louverture(TOO•SAN LOO•vuhr•TYUR), more than 100,000slaves rose in revolt and seized control of all of His-paniola. On January 1, 1804, the western part of His-paniola, now called Haiti, announced its freedom andbecame the first independent state in Latin America.
Describing How did Napoleon’swars affect Latin America?
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On August 10, 1819, Simón Bolívar issued a procla-mation to the people of New Granada (present-dayColombia):
“Granadans! America’s day is come; no humanpower can stay the course of nature guided bythe hand of Providence. Join your efforts to thoseof your brothers: Venezuela marches with me tofree you, as in past years you marched with me tofree Venezuela. Already our advance guard fillswhole provinces of your territory with the lusterof its arms; and the same advance guard, power-fully aided, will hurl the destroyed of NewGranada into the seas. The sun will not have com-pleted the course of its present round through theheavens without beholding in all your territorythe proud altars of liberty.” Portrait of Simón Bolívar
Giraudon/Art Resource, NY
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Revolt in Mexico Beginning in 1810, Mexico, too,experienced a revolt. The first real hero of Mexicanindependence was Miguel Hidalgo, a parish priest ina small village about a hundred miles (160 km) fromMexico City.
Hidalgo, who had studied the French Revolution,roused the local Native Americans and mestizos(people of European and Native American descent)to free themselves from the Spanish: “My children,this day comes to us as a new dispensation. Are youready to receive it? Will you be free? Will you makethe effort to recover from the hated Spaniards thelands stolen from your forefathers 300 years ago?”
On September 16, 1810, a crowd of Native Ameri-cans and mestizos, armed with clubs, machetes, anda few guns, formed a mob army to attack theSpaniards. Hidalgo was an inexperienced militaryleader, however, and his forces were soon crushed. Amilitary court sentenced Hidalgo to death, but hismemory lived on. In fact, September 16, the first dayof the uprising, is Mexico’s Independence Day.
The participation of Native Americans and mesti-zos in Mexico’s revolt against Spanish control fright-ened both creoles and peninsulares there. Afraid of the
masses, they cooperated in defeating the popularrevolutionary forces. Conservative elites—both cre-oles and peninsulares—then decided to overthrowSpanish rule as a way of preserving their own power.They selected a creole military leader, Agustín deIturbide (ee•tur•BEE•thay), as their leader.
In 1821, Mexico declared its independence fromSpain. Iturbide named himself emperor in 1822 butwas deposed in 1823. Mexico then became a republic.
Revolts in South America José de San Martín ofArgentina and Simón Bolívar of Venezuela, bothmembers of the creole elite, were hailed as the “Lib-erators of South America.” These men led revolu-tions throughout the continent. San Martín believedthat the Spaniards must be removed from all of SouthAmerica if any South American nation was to be free.
By 1810, the forces of San Martín had liberatedArgentina from Spanish authority. Bolívar began thestruggle for independence in Venezuela in 1810 andthen went on to lead revolts in New Granada(Colombia) and Ecuador.
In January 1817, San Martín led his forces over theAndes to attack the Spanish in Chile. The journeywas an amazing feat. Two-thirds of the pack mulesand horses died during the trip. Soldiers sufferedfrom lack of oxygen and severe cold while crossingmountain passes that were more than two miles (3.2 km) above sea level.
The arrival of San Martín’s forces in Chile com-pletely surprised the Spaniards. Spanish forces werebadly defeated at the Battle of Chacabuco on Febru-ary 12, 1817. In 1821, San Martín moved on to Lima,Peru, the center of Spanish authority.
Convinced that he could not complete the libera-tion of Peru alone, San Martín welcomed the arrival ofBolívar and his forces. The “Liberator of Venezuela”took on the task of crushing the last significant Span-ish army at Ayacucho on December 9, 1824.
By the end of 1824,Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay,Colombia, Venezuela,Argentina, Bolivia, andChile had all become freestates. Earlier, in 1822, theprince regent of Brazil haddeclared Brazil’s inde-pendence from Portugal.The Central Americanstates had become inde-pendent in 1823. In 1838and 1839, they divided
364 CHAPTER 6 The Height of Imperialism
Father Hidalgo leads Mexicans in revolt against theSpaniards.
HISTORYWeb Activity Visit theGlencoe World History—Modern Times Web site at
and click on Chapter6–Student Web Activityto learn more aboutindependence movementsin Latin America.
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into five republics: Guatemala, El Salvador, Hon-duras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
In the early 1820s, only one major threat remainedto the newly won independence of the Latin Americanstates. Ever since the Congress of Vienna of 1815, theleading nations of Europe, the Concert of Europe, hadagreed to act together on international issues. Most ofthem now favored the use of troops to restore Spanishcontrol in Latin America. The British, however, dis-agreed because they were building up a profitabletrade with these countries. They proposed joint actionwith the United States to block European action.
Distrustful of British motives, United States presi-dent James Monroe acted alone in 1823. He declaredthat the American continents were “henceforth not tobe considered as subjects for future colonization byany European powers.” The president’s proclama-tion, later called the Monroe Doctrine, was a boldact, because the United States might not have beenable to back up its new policy if challenged.
More important to Latin American independencethan American words, however, was Britain’s navy.Other European powers feared British naval power,which stood between Latin America and any Euro-pean invasion force.
Evaluating How did the French Rev-olution help inspire the revolution in Mexico?
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Painting of early twentieth-century coffee plantation by Candido Portinari
Difficulties of Nation Building
After they became independent, Latin Ameri-can nations faced a staggering range of problems.
Reading Connection Have you heard it said that mostAmericans describe themselves as middle class? Read to learnabout the social groups in Latin America in the 1800s.
Between 1830 and 1870, Latin American nationsfaced very serious problems. The wars for indepen-dence had resulted in a staggering loss of people,property, and livestock. Unsure of their preciseboundaries, the new nations also fought with oneanother in some cases to settle border disputes. Poorroads, a lack of railroads, thick jungles, and moun-tains made communication, transportation, andnational unity difficult. Finally, over the course of thenineteenth century, these new nations became eco-nomically dependent on Western nations as they hadbeen during the colonial period.
Rule of the Caudillos Most Latin American nationsbegan with republican governments, but they had lit-tle political experience. Soon after independence,strong leaders known as caudillos gained control.
Museo Nacional de Belas Artes Rio de Janeiro Brazil/Dagli Orti/Art Archive
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A t l a n t i c O c e a n
P a c i f i cO c e a n
P A N A M A R A I L R O A D
Scale varies in this perspective.
The United States’s intervention in Latin America in theearly 1900s led to the building of the Panama Canal(opened in 1914). The United States controlled the canalthroughout most of the twentieth century.
1. Interpreting Maps The Panama Canal provides ashorter route between which two oceans?
2. Interpreting Maps What is the difference in milesbetween the two routes from New York City to SanFrancisco?
3. Applying Geography Skills Nicaragua was an alter-nate site for the canal. Determine why Panama wasselected.
1,000 kilometers0Lambert AzimuthalEqual-Area projection
New York City
Route via the Strait of MagellanRoute via the Panama Canal
Mexican national hero. The son of Native Americanpeasants, President Juárez brought liberal reforms toMexico, including separation of church and state,land distribution to the poor, and an educational sys-tem for all of Mexico.
Other caudillos, such as Juan Manual de Rosas inArgentina, were supported by the masses, becameextremely popular, and brought about radical change.Unfortunately, the caudillo’s authority depended onhis personal power. When he died or lost power, civilwars for control of the country often erupted.
A New Imperialism Political independencebrought economic independence, but old patternswere quickly reestablished. Instead of Spain and Por-tugal, Great Britain now dominated the Latin Ameri-can economy. British merchants moved into Latin
Caudillos ruled chiefly by military force and wereusually supported by the landed elites. Many keptthe new national states together. Some were alsomodernizers who built roads and canals, ports, andschools. Others were destructive.
Antonio López de Santa Anna, for example, ruledMexico from 1833 to 1855. He misused state funds,halted reforms, and created chaos. In 1835, Americansettlers in the Mexican state of Texas revolted.
Texas gained its independence in 1836 and UnitedStates statehood in 1845. War between Mexico andthe United States soon followed (1846–1848). Mexicowas defeated and lost almost one-half of its territoryto the United States in the war with Mexico.
Fortunately for Mexico, Santa Anna’s disastrousrule was followed by a period of reform from 1855 to1876. This era was dominated by Benito Juárez, a
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Panama Canal LocksA ship arrives from the AtlanticOcean or the Pacific Ocean.
The ship enters the first lock andsteel gates close behind it.Water flows into the lock from anartificial lake. When the waterreaches the level of the next higherlock, gates open and the shipmoves forward.
Electric towing locomotives calledmules pull the ship by cablesthrough the locks.
In a descending lock, water isdrained to the level of the nextlower lock and the ship advances.
In 1534, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V ordered the first survey of a proposed canal route across the Isthmus of Panama. The survey came back “impossible.”
The canal was constructed in two stages: between 1881 and 1888 by a French company and between 1904 and 1914 by the United States.
The canal is 51 miles (82 km) long. The average time a ship spends in transit is 8 to 10 hours.
There are 6 pairs of locks, or a total of 12 locks. Each lock is 1,000 feet (305 m) long and 110 feet (34 m) wide. The lock system lifts ships 85 feet (26 m) above sea level.
About 140 million tons (127 million t) of commercial cargo pass through the canal each year.
Panama Canal Facts
Workers building the Panama Canal
America in large numbers, and British investorspoured in funds. Old trade patterns soon reemerged.
Latin America continued to serve as a source ofraw materials and foodstuffs for the industrialnations of Europe and the United States. Exportsincluded wheat, tobacco, wool, sugar, coffee, andhides. At the same time, finished consumer goods,especially textiles, were imported.
The emphasis on exporting raw materials andimporting finished products ensured the ongoingdomination of the Latin American economy by for-eigners. Latin American countries remained eco-nomic colonies of Western nations, even though theywere no longer political colonies.
Persistent Inequality A fundamental, underlyingproblem for all of the new Latin American nations
was the domination of society by the landed elites.Large estates remained a way of life in Latin Amer-ica. By 1848, for example, the Sánchez Navarro fam-ily in Mexico possessed 17 estates made up of 16million acres (6,480,000 ha). Estates were often solarge that they could not even be farmed efficiently.
Land remained the basis of wealth, social prestige,and political power throughout the nineteenth cen-tury. Landed elites ran governments, controlledcourts, and kept a system of inexpensive labor. Theselandowners made enormous profits by growing sin-gle, specialized crops, such as coffee, for export. Themasses, with no land to grow basic food crops, expe-rienced dire poverty.
Describing What were some of thedifficulties faced by the new Latin American republics?
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Political Change in Latin America
Many Latin American governments patternedtheir new constitutions after the United States.
Reading Connection Can you think of a recent examplewhen the United States demonstrated its power in the world?Read to learn how the United States extended its influenceover countries in Latin America.
After 1870, Latin American governments, led bylarge landowners, wrote constitutions similar tothose of the United States and European democra-cies. The ruling elites were careful to keep theirpower by limiting voting rights, however.
The United States in Latin America By 1900, theUnited States, which had emerged as a world power,had begun to interfere in the affairs of its southernneighbors. As a result of the Spanish-American War(1898), Cuba became a United States protectorate,and Puerto Rico was annexed to the United States.
In 1903, the United States supported a rebellionthat enabled Panama to separate itself from Colom-bia and establish a new nation. In return, the UnitedStates was granted control of a strip of land 10 miles(16.09 km) wide running from coast to coast in
Panama. There, the United States built the PanamaCanal, which was opened in 1914.
American investments in Latin America soon fol-lowed, as did American resolve to protect thoseinvestments. Beginning in 1898, American militaryforces were sent to Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Hon-duras, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Haiti, and theDominican Republic to protect American interests.
Some expeditions remained for many years. UnitedStates Marines were in Haiti from 1915 to 1934, andNicaragua was occupied from 1909 to 1933. Increasingnumbers of Latin Americans began to resent this inter-ference from the “big bully” to the north.
Revolution in Mexico In some countries, largelandowners supported dictators who looked out forthe interests of the ruling elite. Porfirio Díaz, whoruled Mexico between 1877 and 1911, created a con-servative, centralized government with the supportof the army, foreign capitalists, large landowners,and the Catholic Church. All these groups benefitedfrom their alliance. However, forces for change inMexico led to a revolution.
During Díaz’s dictatorial reign, the wages ofworkers had declined. Ninety-five percent of therural population owned no land, whereas about athousand families owned almost all of Mexico. Whena liberal landowner, Francisco Madero, forced Díaz
from power in 1911, he opened the doorto a wider revolution.
Madero’s ineffectiveness created ademand for agrarian reform. This newcall for reform was led by Emiliano Zapata. Zapata aroused the masses oflandless peasants and began to seize theestates of wealthy landholders.
Between 1910 and 1920, the MexicanRevolution caused great damage to theMexican economy. Finally, a new consti-tution enacted in 1917 set up a govern-ment led by a president, createdland-reform policies, established limitson foreign investors, and set an agendato help the workers. The revolution alsoled to an outpouring of patriotism. Intel-lectuals and artists sought to capturewhat was unique about Mexico, withspecial emphasis on its past.
Interpreting Whatwere the positive and negative effects of the Mexi-can Revolution?
368 CHAPTER 6 The Height of Imperialism
United States Marines hoist the American flag following aUnited States victory in the Spanish-American War. Whatterritories in addition to Cuba came under Americancontrol as a result of the Spanish-American War?
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Checking for Understanding1. Vocabulary Define: creole, peninsu-
lare, dominate, mestizo, Monroe Doc-trine, caudillo, emphasis, expand.
2. People Identify: José de San Martín,Simón Bolívar, Antonio López de SantaAnna, Benito Juárez.
3. Places Locate: Puerto Rico, PanamaCanal, Haiti, Nicaragua.
Reviewing Big Ideas4. Describe British motives for protecting
Latin American states.
Critical Thinking5. Sequence and
Change Why did eliminating Europeandomination of Latin America not bringsignificant change?
6. Organizing Information Fill in a chartlike the one below to identify whichcountry exported each product listed.
Analyzing Visuals7. Describe the painting on page 364.
What action is taking place? How wouldyou describe the emotions of the peo-ple in the scene? How has the paintertried to convey the importance of theevent?
CA CS 2
8. Expository Writing Why did LatinAmerican countries remain eco-nomic colonies of Western nationswhen they were no longer politicalcolonies? Write a brief essay explain-ing why this happened.
Product Countrycoffeebananas and coffeebeef and wheatsugar and silver
characteristics. They lived in the cities; sought educa-tion and decent incomes; and saw the United Statesas a model, especially in regard to industrialization.
The middle sectors in Latin America sought liberalreform, not revolution. Once they had the right tovote, they generally sided with the landholding elites.
Evaluating What caused the growthof a middle class in Latin America?
Changes in the economies of Latin Americancountries expanded the middle class.
Reading Connection Can you recall what groups madeup the middle classes in Western Europe in the 1800s? As youread, compare those groups with middle-class groups in LatinAmerica.
After 1870, Latin America began an age of prosper-ity based to a large extent on the export of a few basicitems. These included wheat and beef from Argentina,coffee from Brazil, coffee and bananas from CentralAmerica, and sugar and silver from Peru. These food-stuffs and raw materials were largely exchanged forfinished goods—textiles, machines, and luxuryitems—from Europe and the United States. After 1900,Latin Americans also increased their own industrial-ization, especially by building textile, food-processing,and construction material factories.
One result of the prosperity that came fromincreased exports was growth in the middle sectors(divisions) of Latin American society—lawyers, mer-chants, shopkeepers, businesspeople, schoolteachers,professors, bureaucrats, and military officers. Thesemiddle sectors accounted for only 5 to 10 percent ofthe population, hardly enough in numbers to makeup a true middle class. Nevertheless, after 1900, themiddle sectors of society continued to expand.
Regardless of the country in which they lived,middle-class Latin Americans shared some common
The seaside promenade in Montevideo, Uruguay, in the earlytwentieth century
For help with the concepts in this section of Glencoe WorldHistory—Modern Times, go to andclick on Study Central.
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