BOLIVAR, SIMON. 1783-1830.
BOLIVAR LETTER TO GENERAL URDANTE WRITTEN SHORTLY BEFORE HIS DEATH.
Letter Signed ("Bolivar"), 6 pp recto and verso, 4to, Cartagena, Columbia, September 18, 1830, to General Rafael Urdaneta, with original address leaf, leaves toned and soiled, all leaves disbound with mounting remnants at left margins. Together with a copy of the National Journal (Vol VI, No. 3535: November 2, 1830), featuring a two-column story on the revolutionary events taking place in Columbia during the past months.
Called "the Liberator" and "the George Washington of South America," Simon Bolivar led revolutionary forces to free the northern countries of South America--Columbia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia--from Spanish colonial rule. Though Bolivar championed republics in each of these countries, his insistence on establishing dictatorships (whith himself at the head) ultimately impeded the progress of democracy. In May of 1830 he retired his place as leader of Columbia, leaving his colleague, General Rafael Urdaneta, to fill the vacancy as leader. This letter was written in September of 1830, two months before his death from tuberculosis, responding to Urdaneta's request that Bolivar resume his leadership role. In part, translated: "Santa Maria tells me that, unless I accept the command, fearful anarchy will inevitably follow; but what am I to do about the iron barrier that keeps me from the presidency? That barrier is the matter of lawful possession. This I do not have, and he who holds it has not surrendered it. We must, therefore, await the elections. Following these, I will be duly cloaked in legitimacy, unless a new president is elected. The political horizon will have cleared, and, in short, we shall know whether or not we have a fatherland. Then, and only then, could I vest myself with the executive power, always assuming taht the elections are held in conformity with the law ... There is still another circumstance which renders me useless to this administration: actuality precedes improvement. We must first bring our country back into existence, as she has been dissolved and cannot, therefore, be well goverened until she is reunited by force of arms. I offer my services for the most difficult and perilous of the tasks ahead, and thus I shall escape the charge of personal aggrandizement ... It is now my turn to ask you not to abandon us to the mercy of this fearful anarchy. You cannot be accused of ambition in view of the fact that you have made every effort to persuade me to return, and you have never vied with anyone for the supreme power. You are under a greater compulsion than I, as you held the position of minister when the government fell and you are now holding office for only a few days, pro tempore, until I arrive. I am proceeding to the capital, which might make it appear that I am considering taking office. It is true that if I set foot in Bogota, I cannot tell what will happen, pressed as I will be on all sides, by the Church on the one hand, the army on the other, and the people everywhere."