Colombian Declaration of Independence (1810) – History, Causes & Consequences

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Independence of Colombia: History, Causes, Effects and Consequences

Independence of Colombia: Political and military process that allowed the liberation of the territory of New Granada from Spanish rule in the early 19th century.

Colombian Declaration of Independence

What was the Independence of Colombia?

Independence of Colombia is called the political and military process that allowed the Viceroyalty of New Granada to be separated from the Spanish Empire.

This process began on July 20, 1810, when the Creoles of Bogotá formed a government junta that displaced the Spanish viceroy from power. It ended in 1822, after Simón Bolívar defeated the royalists and formed Gran Colombia, which integrated Nueva Granada, Venezuela and Ecuador into a single state.

Stages of the Independence of Colombia

  • Colombia First Republic (1810 – 1816)

This stage, also known as “Patria Boba“, marked the beginning of the struggles for independence.

The trigger for the insurrection was a fight between the Spanish merchant José González Llorente and the Creole Luis de Rubio, which took place in Bogotá on July 20, 1810. This episode was used by the patriots to promote a rebellion that ended with the formation of a local government board, which ordered the arrest of Spanish viceroy Antonio Amar y Borbón.

The pretense of the Bogota junta to impose its authority throughout the viceregal territory generated the reaction of other cities, which formed their own committees. Finally, two independent states were constituted: the United Provinces of Nueva Granada, with its capital in Tunja, and the Free State of Cundinamarca, with its capital in Bogotá. Both States fought against the royalists and each other, until in 1814 the United Provinces subdued Cundinamarca.

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During this stage the decisive battle of the Palo River took place, during which the patriots defeated the royalists and liberated southern New Granada.

  • Colombia Spanish Reconquest (1816-1819)

In 1815, the King of Spain Fernando VII sent an expedition led by General Pablo Morillo to reconquer his dominions in America. The royalists landed in the port of Carupano, advanced towards Nueva Granada and entered Bogotá in 1816.

With Spanish domination restored, Morillo imposed a regime of terror, during which several patriots were shot, including Camilo Torres, president of the United Provinces of Nueva Granada.

  • Colombia Liberating Campaign (1819)

In 1819, Bolívar, who had liberated much of Venezuela, crossed the Andes and entered New Granada. From then on, a period of armed struggles against the royalists began, during which the following acts of arms took place:

  • Combat of Paya, June 27.
  • Battle of Gámeza and Tópaga, on July 11.
  • Battle of the Pantano de Vargas, on July 25.
  • Battle of Boyacá, on August 7.

When the Spanish viceroy Juan de Sámano learned of the patriot victory in Boyacá, he fled to Cartagena de Indias, so the patriotic troops were able to enter Bogotá on August 10, 1819.

  • Greater Colombia (1819-1830)

The union between Venezuela and New Granada was reflected in the Congress of Angostura, meeting in 1819. And it was ratified by the Congress of Cúcuta, which met in 1821.

Greater Colombia suffered from great political instability, due to the struggles between Bolívar‘s supporters and the federalists, led by Francisco de Paula Santander from New Granada and José Páez from Venezuela. These conflicts ended with the dissolution of Gran Colombia and the formation of three independent states: VenezuelaEcuador and Colombia.

Colombian Declaration of Independence (1810) – History, Causes & Consequences

Battle of the Palo River , painting by the Colombian artist José María Espinosa Prieto. This battle between patriots and royalists took place in 1815, in the current department of Cauca.


Causes and Consequences of the Independence of Colombia – Revolution

Causes of the Colombian Declaration of Independence

Among the main causes of the independence of Colombia can be mentioned:

  • The Independence of the United States, proclaimed in 1776, which was a model to be imitated by the patriots of New Granada.
  • The rebellion of the commoners, who in 1781 protested against the increase in taxes and the restrictions imposed on the cultivation of tobacco by the Spanish Crown. Although the movement was repressed and its leaders shot, it was the first antecedent of the anti-Spanish struggle in New Granada.
  • The influence of the ideas spread by the Enlightenment and by the French Revolution, especially those of freedom, equality before the law and brotherhood among peoples.
  • The Independence of Haiti, in 1804, which offered the New Granada patriots another example that it was possible to break ties with the metropolis.
  • The Napoleonic wars, in which the invasion of Spain took place, which in 1808 put the Spanish monarchy in crisis.
  • The discontent of the inhabitants of New Granada for the increase in taxes and the validity of the commercial monopoly.
  • The rivalry between the peninsulares and the criollos, who competed for access to the most important positions in the colonial administration.
  • The establishment of a government junta in Quito, on August 10, 1809. That junta was a precedent of the Independence of Ecuador and an example that the patriots of New Granada did not fail to take into account.
  • The writing of the “Memorial of grievances“, in November 1809. In this document, drawn up by Camilo Torres, the Creoles demanded equal rights with the peninsular.
  • The formation of a local government council in the city of Caracas, on April 19, 1810. This process led to the declaration of the Independence of Venezuela, on April 5, 1811, and influenced the New Granada patriots.
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Consequences of the Colombian Declaration of Independence

The main consequences of the Independence of Colombia were the following:

  • The political instability, product of the conflicts between the centralists, led by Antonio Nariño, and the federalists, led by Camilo Torres. These differences weakened the independence process and facilitated the Spanish reconquest of 1816.
  • The abolition of titles of nobility and the abolition of slavery.
  • The end of the commercial monopoly and the establishment of free trade.
  • The union of Nueva Granada with Venezuela and Ecuador, after the liberation campaigns undertaken by Bolívar between 1819 and 1822, and the consequent formation of Gran Colombia.
  • The death of some 100,000 people as a result of the struggle between patriots and royalists, plagues and famines.

Protagonists of the Independence of Colombia

The main protagonists of the Independence of Colombia were:

  • Antonio Nariño (1765–1823): Politician and military man from New Granada, one of the promoters of the Independence of New Granada. In 1793 he translated the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen into Spanish.
  • Camilo Torres Tenorio (1766-1816): New Granada lawyer, political and intellectual leader. He held the position of president of the United Provinces of New Granada. He was captured by the royalists and shot in Bogotá on October 5, 1816.
  • Francisco José de Caldas (1768–1816): New Granada scientist, engineer and journalist, considered one of the precursors of the Independence of Colombia.
  • Simón Bolívar (1783–1830): Venezuelan politician and military man, who liberated the current territories of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador from Spanish domination. He integrated these territories into Greater Colombia, of which he was its first president.
  • Francisco de Paula Santander (1792–1840): Neo-Granada politician and military man, who had a decisive participation in the independence process. He was the second president of the Republic of Colombia, between 1832 and 1837.
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