Simon Bolívar

Simón Bolívar (1783-1830)
   One of South America's greatest statesmen and generals was Simón Bolívar. Called "The Liberator," he led the fight for independence from Spain.
Bolívar was born in Caracas, Venezuela, at a time when the American colonies to the north had just won independence from England. His family had lived in Vene­zuela for more than 200 years. Its first members arrived with Spanish settlers in the early 1500s. Bolívar's parents died when he was very young, and left him a large fortune. He was able to travel widely in the United States and Europe. In these places, young Simón saw how revolutions were bringing new freedom.
   When he was 28, Bolívar joined the fight for the freedom of Vene­zuela and all of South America. After a long struggle, he and his troops defeated the Spaniards in 1819, at the Battle of Boyaca (in Colombia). He became President of Colombia, and wrote a constitution for the new country of Bolivia, which was named after him.
   Because he helped win indepen­dence for Bolivia, Colombia, Ecua­dor, Peru, and Venezuela, Bolívar became President of all these countries. He dreamed of a union for all new South American countries, but the dream never came true. He died a saddened and poor man at the age of 47.