Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Compare and Contrast the Independence Movements in Terms of Causes, Practices, and Effects

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Many factors fueled the independence movements in Anglo-America, Spanish-America, and Portuguese-America. There were a number of similar and different causes present in all three of the Americas. Likewise, the practices had their similarities and differences. When it came to the effects, however, there was more similarity than difference.

The causes that inspired the independence movements of these Americas were all characterized by the desire for freedom from their respective mother countries. The first similar cause was taxation. In the Anglo-America (America) struggle, the taxation enforcement came at the end of salutary neglect, at the conclusion of the seven years war between England and France. During salutary neglect, taxes passed in Britain were unenforced or uncollected in the colonies. Salutary neglect ended with the Sugar Act of 1764, replacing the Molasses Act of 1733. The Sugar Act was a small tax but it was enforced. After its enforcement, American colonies started to protest this small tax. Consequently, the Sugar Act was repealed. A year later, the British passed the Stamp Act which also was enforced in America. The Stamp Act taxed playing cards, magazines, newspapers, dice, and legal documents. This offended the economic elite of America. And in direct response to this tax, the Sons of Liberty were formed. The Sons acted as terrorists in the name of Liberty. This group urged America to boycott British goods. Once again, influence by American citizens led to the repeal of another tax.

The next tax passed on the Americans were the Townsend Acts, which were also disdained by the Americans. As a result, Americans boycotted British imports. This led to a steep drop in the amount of British imports coming into America. Imports fell 15%. And again, American protest resulted in another British tax being repealed.

Finally, the last set of laws which proved to finally drive Americans to a war of independence from England, were passed. These were known as the Intolerable Acts. The Acts, in brief, consisted of first closing the Boston Port, which was the second busiest port in America. Second, it banned town meetings and shut down local governments in Massachusetts. Third, trials for treason were to be tried in Nova Scotia and England instead of America which angered the colonial legal elite. Fourth, the Quebec Act offended the plantation/land elite of America because no one could settle west of the Appalachian Mountains unless it was chartered by the Quebec government. Lastly, the Quartering Act was extended. The Quartering Act stated that now American homes must house and feed British soldiers. These final taxes were fuel for the shots fired at Lexington and Concord on April 1th, 1775.

In Spanish-America (SpAm), the taxation conflict that led to the independence movement was the partial end to the Quinto in 1778. Under the old Quinto system, the crown would get one-fifth of all the non-perishable products from the New World. These valuable major goods were gold, silver, animal hides, and tallow. With the partial end to the Quinto, the 1 largest SpAm cities were allowed to engage in free trade with each other and did not have to sail to Spain to drop off the Kings portion. By 1778, two more cities had been added to the free-trade list. Although the crown appeased many colonial citizens, it did not appease them all with this partial end to the Quinto. In 1778, after exempting the fourteenth and fifteenth cities, the Crown passed the Estanco tax, which, in effect, monopolized all SpAm tobacco farms. This angered the landed elite as well as angering citizens of Spain on both sides of the ocean. Moreover, all the citizens who werent part of the fifteen city exemption for free trade as well as the smuggler class of citizens, were also offended.

In Portuguese-America (Brazil), the taxation cause that led to the independence movement was Portugals attempt to make Brazil return to mercantilism. Brazil had been the capital of the Portuguese Empire and enjoyed the power of free trade. However, under mercantilism, Brazil would have to begin trading with Portugal as a mother country and the free trade power would be gone. As a result, Brazil could not trade with neighboring countries at all. Brazil was not ready to make the switch back from free trade, capital status to colonial mercantilism status. An uprising/rebellion was in the near future.

The next similar cause for independence in the three Americas was enlightened thought. Enlightened thought was pioneered and authored by such philosophers as Rousseau, Baron de Montesquieu, Locke, and Hobbes. In America, enlightened thought helped us to realize that America needed to be a democratic government and free of the mother country hold of England. The philosophers that influenced our thought were primarily John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, the Baron de Montesquieu, and Jean Jacques Rousseau. John Lockes writings inspired Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in their drafting a Constitution and a Bill of Rights for America.

In SpAm, written enlightened material had been banned by the crown and people were forced to acquire and read it in secret. After reading these materials, SpAm citizens fought for such causes as abolition. Underground schools began to flourish while the elites revolted. SpAm was primarily influenced by the writings of Francisco Suarez, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine. As noted, two of the four enlightened thinkers that SpAm read and admired were from England. Jefferson and Paine moved to America where they advocated and wrote of independence. Because two of the four had already been through a revolution, this made the SpAm fight for independence seem much more realistic because of recent successes in other parts of the world.

Enlightened thought in Brazil was very different than in the other two American regions. The same thinkers and thinking reached the Brazilian crown but it arrived in the form of the Brazilian Assembly itself. In 1781, King Pedro I was called back to Lisbon, Portugal. Due to his birthright, he left his 5 year old son, Pedro, in charge. A three man regency council was created as a de facto government to run the country until Pedro was old enough to rule the country as king. During his youth, Pedro read many books by enlightened thinkers from all parts of the globe. When he was 15, King Pedro II began to practice all the teachings he read as a child. He freed his slaves, met Victor Hugo, built schools, erected telegraphs, railroads, roads and built up a strong infrastructure all while playing the part of an enlightened despot. None of this would have been possible had it not been for the English Navy assisting the Brazilian fight against the reinstatement of mercantilism.

The third similar cause was folly. The mother countries of all three regions exhibited folly in one way or another. In America, King George III, along with his cabinet in Britain, ignored his political opposition in England. The Whig Party, caused the Tory Party to split and not agree on anything. If Britain was to become unstable, then they could/should not be managing all of their empire. If King George had listened to the Whig party, he may not have plunged himself into a war with America. We can assume that The Intolerable Acts of 1774 were most likely a Tory-created set of laws. King George was not willing to listen to the Whigs who were more liberal than their counterparts.

In SpAm, the major folly there was the creation of the Creole military. The Creoles were the economic elite of SpAm and had the strongest grip on the financial well-being of SpAm. However, they did not have as much power as the Peninsulares. Peninsulares were born in Iberia, were living in Latin-America, and were considered the political elite. The Creoles were dissatisfied because they held no true power on what went on in SpAm.

In 1780, the Creole military was officially created. This military reform came during the Bourbon reforms of the Spanish Crown. The Crown believed that they were appeasing and making the Creoles content by appointing all of their young sons as generals of the military and royal tax collectors. These actions had quite an adverse effect on The Crown. By these actions, The Crown armed their political enemies. This would come back to haunt the Peninsulares and the Spanish. Two influential Creoles, Vincente Guerrero and Augustín de Iturbíde, would join forces in 1781 and declare Mexico independent. Augustín would become Augustín I but was then overthrown by Col. Santa Anna. In Northern Spanish South America, Simon Bolívar who is a liberal Creole, would go on to free Venezuela, Ecuador, and Upper Peru. Next, the liberator of Southern Spanish South America would be Jose de San Martín. San Martín was a liberal Creole and part of the Creole military. San Martín freed the countries of Argentina, Chile, and walked into Lower Peru after King Ferdinand lost the war. The Crown created and armed the Creole military and then gave it reason to rise up. This military creation practically gave all of SpAm to the Creoles.

In Brazil, the folly that caused the independence movement was the recall of King Pedro. The reason that Portugal recalled Pedro was that he had refused to go back into mercantilism. With this rebellious act, King João sent the Portuguese Navy to make Pedro obey Joãos orders. However, the opportunist British saw that this would hurt their current business with Brazil so, the British Navy intercepted the Portuguese Navy when they were en route to Brazil and saved the Brazilians from being lost to the Portuguese.

The final similar cause is a rather concise one. The mother countries of all three regions of the Americas were weakened by previous wars and tried to fill their depleted treasuries by taxing of their colonies. For America, England had just ended the Seven Years War with France. England needed to find a way to pay off the war debt. They therefore enforced existing and new taxes in America. In SpAm and Brazil, both Spain and Portugal had ended a reign by Napoleon but they were not ready to re-enter self-rule just yet. Because they were not able to manage their colonies, in the end, they lost them.

Under the category of different causes, although the ideas may have been similar, the resulting actions by the countries differed. One of these examples falls under the initial reason for starting each countrys war of independence. In America, our revolution began as a tax rebellion. Initially, salutary neglect was a flash point. Then, new taxes were imposed. America rebelled, causing the new taxes to be repealed. But the final laws (and final straw) passed were the Intolerable Acts. Englands treatment went from light to harsh in a matter of years. In SpAm, while Napolean was the ruler, no real power existed within SpAm. Moreover, the SpAms split on the issue of slavery as a cause to go to war. In the end, the issue of abolition was a major factor in their war of independence. In Brazil, their reason for going to war was the fact that they did not want to go under the old system of mercantilism and therefore they rebelled. They wished to have free trade with all ports and cities.

The issue of slavery, in each country, came up as a cause because it either was used or abused. In America, the Declaration of Independence said that all men were created equal. However, there was a clause that gave a code word for slavery Property. With this escape clause, slavery was never brought up as an issue to fight for in the American war of independence. In SpAm, slavery was brought up only to use Indian anger in SpAm to fuel and support the revolution. It worked so well that 40,000 Indians were ready to attack Mexico City but the general Hidalgo hesitated and He who hesitates is lost. In Brazil, the issue on slavery was an open and shut case and not considered as a controversial theme. There, slavery was kept and not a cause to go to war over.

Regarding the practices exhibited in the various wars, there was one major similarity and that was foreign intervention. With Americas revolution, after the Second Battle of Saratoga, the French realized that our cause could win and they came in with the help of Lafayette and his training. This training helped us to go on and win the war. In SpAm, Britain helped Simon Bolívar immensely after his leadership was secured with the second revolution. Bolívar led their armies after he stood atop Mt. Sacro and declared that he would free South America from Spanish rule. He freed the northern part of South America. However, in Brazil, the fighting was very small and not very bloody. The only foreign intervention that occurred was Britains naval fleet routing Portugals fleet while they were on their way to enforce recent royal decrees. So, in effect, all three involved foreign intervention, but each of their wars bloodiness totals were quite different in scale.

With foreign aid, came some differences. Foreign aid came to America after our independence movement began (after the Second Battle of Saratoga). This was also true in SpAm (Simon Bolívars second revolution). In Brazil, the only beginning to the independence movement there was their rebellion against the switch back to mercantilism. The British Navy took care of the rest of their war. Along the lines of war, the bloodiness factor was a quite different practice in all three regions. In America, we had a very bloody revolt all the way through. In SpAm, there was a different story, it was a bloody war, but most of the bloodshed occurred in Peru. In the Mexican conflict, there was not a drop of blood shed. When Ferdinand lost the war in Spain, the liberal citizens just invited the armies in with no bloodshed at all.

Lastly, with all three regions, some very long-lasting effects came out of the fighting. A similar resulting effect was the fact that it saw the end of colonial mercantilism, which was a plus for each region of the New World. America despised the fact that it couldnt trade with any neighboring countries as well being barred from building factories to manufacture any useful products that would be desired by neighboring countries.

In SpAm, mercantilism meant a system called the Quinto that was a very annoying way to allow the Crowns share to go to the Crown. Sailors and merchants had to sail to Cadiz from SpAm, to pay the Crowns one-fifth. They were only then able to trade with the cities they needed to. This inconvenience marked up the price for all the extra miles the merchandise had to travel. In Brazil, existing mercantile trade was not an inconvenience. Add to that the fact that Brazil was then made capital of the Portuguese Empire, ending mercantilism and bringing in free trade. However, when King João went to Lisbon, moving the capital, mercantilism failed to be reinstated.

Another similar effect was the post-revolution instability each region faced. After the American Revolution, the first Constitution was instated. These were the Articles of Confederation. These Articles existed for eight years in total. Various rebellions sprouted showing that the Articles were not an effective form of government. One rebellion, Shays Rebellion, was mounted when Daniel Shays and other farmers raided an armory and kidnapped three judges. The now United States government could do nothing to calm the insurrection. It could not even raise an army. Added to the ineffectiveness of the Articles, the U.S. could not coin or print money or even tax the people/states.

In SpAm, instability occurred in the first decade of their independence. There was a civil war in SpAm and in Mexico. After getting their independence, Guadalupe Victoria served from 1784-1788. His successor was Vincente Guerrero who only served one year before being overthrown. For 40 years, Mexico had no ruler who ever governed a full term. Instead, the Caudillsmo, or military rule, oversaw most of the terms were served by Santa Anna.

In Brazil, instability came in the first eighteen years during Pedro I. Even then, it was either Pedro I or his group of regents ruling Brazil. After Pedro I left for Lisbon and left his son Pedro behind to rule, he made a grand decision. It would be Pedro II, at age 15, who would lead Brazil to its most prosperous time for 4 years of stability as well as abolition after Pedros daughter Isabel took over. However, afterwards, Brazils overthrow of the monarchy would see a return to chaos.

Also, different effects occurred in all three Americas. These different effects related to what the countrys ultimate political rule was. In America, the main political rule of the country was that of a republic. We were the only New World country to adopt a republic and keep it after our respective revolutions. While we were a republic after the revolution, SpAm and Brazil were both monarchical societies that did not change much because they just now had a revolutionary king. It was still a monarchy for a government.

Finally, one different effect that came out of all of this was the issue of abolition. Abolition was achieved in all three regions but did not occur until the 1th century. Mexican abolition in SpAm occurred in 1857, not very long after they became an independent nation. In America, abolition occurred ninety years after we declared our independence. In 1865, after a bloody civil war, our constitution had to be amended (1th amendment) to end slavery. Finally, in Brazil, abolition was achieved in 1888 after a royal decree. After her father returned to Lisbon, It was the Queens decree in that abolished this outdated practice.

With all the Americas, independence was a very sought-after gem of a concept. It also acted as a double-edged sword when achieved. On one hand, each country was free of tyrannical rule. On the other hand, in the case of SpAm and Brazil, the countries saw another monarchy take the place of previous rule. Only in America did we see the establishment of a republic and a radical change in how that country was governed. The causes and practices in all three countries were similar but the end result showed a marked difference in the effects of these hard fought revolutions.

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