Colonization and independence of latin america
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Colonization and Independence of Latin America. Slavery in Latin America. Finding cheap labor was a goal of the Europeans in America in the 1500s. Gold and silver found by conquistadors made Spain and Portugal wealthy. The wealth also made them powerful countries.

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Colonization and Independence of Latin America

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Colonization and Independence of Latin America

Slavery in Latin America

  • Finding cheap labor was a goal of the Europeans in America in the 1500s.

  • Gold and silver found by conquistadors made Spain and Portugal wealthy.

  • The wealth also made them powerful countries.

  • At first, these metals could be taken from the native people.

  • As these supplies were used up, the Europeans decided to try to set up mines to get more.

Slavery in Latin America

  • As more Europeans came to the Americas, some tried to find ways to grow crops that could be sold in Europe.

  • Sugar cane grew well in the Caribbean and in the tropics of Central and South America.

  • The sugar cane was used to make sugar, molasses, and rum.

  • Both of these projects required a large and cheap labor force.

Slavery in Latin America

  • The native people were not a good choice for labor.

  • Millions died from diseases brought by the Europeans.

  • More died because of violence with the Europeans.

  • Natives that were forced to farm or work in mines faced harsh conditions.

  • Many of them died as well.

  • Many of the indigenous people simply retreated into the mountains or into the jungles.

  • The Europeans then looked to Africa for labor.

Slavery in Latin America

  • Africans were brought to the Americas by ship.

  • For many, the difficult journey ended in death by starvation or disease.

  • Once they arrived in the New World, the Africans were forced to work on plantations or in mines.

  • Long working hours, poor housing, and poor nutrition made life difficult.

  • Children born to the Africans were considered slaves too.

  • They faced a lifetime of work with no chance of freedom.

Slavery in Latin America

  • For about three hundred years, businesses that depended on slavery grew.

  • The laborers—slaves—grew in numbers as the plantations expanded.

  • Most of them lived in the tropical areas near the coast where large farms could be built.

  • This labor force helped to build many of the countries of Latin America, but most of the wealth was sent back to Europe.

  • As different countries gained freedom from Europe in the 1800s, they ended slavery.

Colonial Latin America

  • The governments of Spain and Portugal ruled most of Latin America for nearly three hundred years.

  • In that time, there were numerous battles for control of the lands.

  • At times, the people who were being ruled by the Europeans grew restless.

  • They thought about what it would be like to be free.

Independence Comes

  • The American Revolution in 1776 gave some in Latin America the idea that they too could be free.

  • In 1789, the French Revolution showed that the kings and queens of Europe could be overcome.

  • These events encouraged Latin Americans in the belief that they might be able to overcome their European rulers.


  • Toussaint L’Ouverture was a famous black freedom fighter.

  • He was a major leader of the slave revolts in Saint Domingue (present-day Haiti).

  • He was later made governor of Saint Domingue.


  • Francois-Domingue Toussaint was born a slave in the mid-1700s.

  • His father had been a free African who was captured and sold into slavery in Saint Domingue.

  • He told his son about freedom and what life was like before his capture.


  • Toussaint was lucky because the plantation owner allowed him to learn to read and write.

  • Toussaint read every book that he could.

  • He read books that were popular in France.

  • These books had ideas about freedom and equality for all men.


  • In 1789, the French Revolution occurred. The new government in France granted freedom to all free blacks and mulattoes (those with African and European ancestors).

  • However, the plantation owners in Saint Domingue were furious.

  • In 1791, the French government changed its mind and took back the freedom it had given to blacks and mulattoes.

  • This time, the slaves were furious.

  • Toussaint led a slave army and defeated the French troops.


  • By 1793, the French government abolished slavery altogether.

  • Toussaint then led his men against invading British and Spanish troops.

  • During this time, he was nicknamed Toussaint L’Ouverture, or “opening,” because he seemed to be able to find openings in the defenses of his enemies.

  • In the end, Toussaint L’Ouverture was left in charge of Saint Domingue even though it was officially a French colony.


  • In 1802, the French emperor Napoleon sent troops to regain control.

  • Some thought that he also wanted to reinstate slavery.

  • Toussaint L’Ouverture was invited to a meeting with a French general to discuss a peace treaty.

  • Instead, Toussaint was captured, arrested, and sent to France.

  • He was imprisoned and died shortly after.

  • Within two years, the people of Saint Dominigue declared their independence and renamed their country Haiti.


  • Simon Bolivar was a leader in the wars for independence in South America.

  • He and other leaders fought against Spanish rule.

  • They wanted independence for all the people in Latin America.

  • Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela won their independence through his efforts.


  • Bolivar was born in 1783, in Caracas, in what is now Venezuela.

  • He was from a wealthy family.

  • He had an excellent education and read many books with ideas on freedom and equality.

  • He lived at the time of the French Revolution and through that learned of the defeat of the French royal family.


  • From 1810 to 1824, Bolivar led different groups of troops against Spanish rule.

  • He fought in the lands that are now Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama.

  • He was able to finally defeat the Spanish in 1824 and end Spanish rule in South America.

  • The country of Bolivia was named for Bolivar, and he wrote a constitution to organize the country.


  • Bolivar is known as “The Liberator” in South America.

  • He is also sometimes called the “George Washington of South America.”

  • He became dictator and tried to create a single, large South American country called Gran Colombia.


  • It covered the entire northern part of South America.

  • Fights among different groups caused the different countries to break up.

  • Bolivar became infected with tuberculosis and died from the disease in 1830.


  • Miguel Hidalgo is known as the father of Mexican independence.

  • He was a priest who led a peasant army against the Spanish army in Mexico, which was then called New Spain.

  • His force won some victories, but Hidalgo did not live to see independence.


  • Hidalgo was born in 1753. His family saw that he got a good education.

  • As he grew up, he read books with ideas on freedom and equality.

  • He saw that there was not equality for the peasant workers in Mexico.

  • He also saw that those born in Spain got special treatment, compared to citizens born in Mexico.

  • After training to be a priest, he worked among the native people and peasants.


  • In 1808, France invaded Spain, and the king was removed.

  • This created problems in Mexico.

  • People were not sure they supported the new French government.

  • Others did not support the old Spanish government.

  • A third group thought it was time for Mexico to be independent.

  • Hidalgo and his friends were for the third choice.


  • In 1810, Hidalgo was warned that he was going to be arrested.

  • Those loyal to the French government had turned him in.

  • On September 16, instead of running away, he ran to his church and rang the bell.

  • People from the countryside came in.

  • Instead of having a church service, the people got a speech.

  • In this speech, Hidalgo said it was time for Mexico to be free.


  • At first, thousands of people followed Hidalgo.

  • They won several victories against the Spanish army.

  • However, they did not have training, and they did not have many weapons.

  • Eventually, the Spanish army pulled its forces together and mounted an attack.


  • They defeated a group of the rebels and captured Hidalgo.

  • He was tried for treason and found guilty.

  • He was executed by Spanish soldiers on July 30, 1811, but the war for independence continued.

  • Mexico did not win its independence for another ten years.

  • In 1821, Spain withdrew the last of its troops from Mexico.


  • Describe the influence of African slavery on the development of the Americas.

  • Explain the Latin American independence movement; include the importance of Toussaint L’Ouverture, Simon Bolivar, and Miguel Hidalgo.

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