1811 Independence Movement

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Manuel Jose Arce, leader of the revolt in San Salvador Manuel Jose Arce.jpg
Manuel José Arce, leader of the revolt in San Salvador

The 1811 Independence Movement known in El Salvador as the Primer grito de independencia (First Shout of Independence) was the first of a series of revolts in Central America in El Salvador against Spanish colonialism and dependency on the Captaincy General of Guatemala.

El Salvador country in Central America

El Salvador, officially the Republic of El Salvador, is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. It is bordered on the northeast by Honduras, on the northwest by Guatemala, and on the south by the Pacific Ocean. El Salvador's capital and largest city is San Salvador. As of 2016, the country had a population of approximately 6.34 million.

Revolution fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time

In political science, a revolution is a fundamental and relatively sudden change in political power and political organization which occurs when the population revolts against the government, typically due to perceived oppression. In book V of the Politics, the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle described two types of political revolution:

  1. Complete change from one constitution to another
  2. Modification of an existing constitution.
Central America Place

Central America is located on the southern tip of North America, or is sometimes defined as a subcontinent of the Americas, bordered by Mexico to the north, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south. Central America consists of seven countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The combined population of Central America has been estimated to be 41,739,000 and 42,688,190.



At the beginning of the 19th century, agitation grew in the American territories dominated by the Spanish crown. The previous century was dominated by the growing support of ideas of individual freedom, which characterized the Enlightenment that took place in Europe and the Americas. Most influential was the American Revolution, with the resulting liberation of the British North American colonies, and the French Revolution, which seeded the restlessness and search for freedom in the Spanish American territories under dominion of the Spaniards.

Age of Enlightenment European cultural movement of the 18th century

The Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the "Century of Philosophy".

American Revolution Political upheaval, 1775–1783

The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America. They defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) in alliance with France and others.

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

In the Intendancy of San Salvador (covering roughly the same territory as today's El Salvador), many Creoles and other settlers wanted to separate control of the colony from the Guatemalan Captaincy General. This was largely due to economic and political reasons. Greater administrative autonomy or outright independence for San Salvador would reduce the high level of taxes paid to Spain and Guatemala and would raise finances for the colony. Napoleón Bonaparte's invasion of Spain in 1808 and the removal of Ferdinand VII from the Spanish throne created an atmosphere of unrest in San Salvador.

The Criollo are Latin Americans who are of full or near full Spanish descent, distinguishing them from both multi-racial Latin Americans and Latin Americans of post-colonial European immigrant origin. Historically, they were a social class in the hierarchy of the overseas colonies established by Spain beginning in the 16th century, especially in Hispanic America, comprising the locally born people of Spanish ancestry. Although Criollos were legally Spaniards, in practice, they ranked below the Iberian-born Peninsulares. Nevertheless, they had preeminence over all the other populations: Amerindians, enslaved Africans and peoples of mixed descent.

Peninsular War War by Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom against the French Empire (1807–1814)

The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was a military conflict between Napoleon's empire and Bourbon Spain, for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when the French and Spanish armies invaded and occupied Portugal in 1807, and escalated in 1808 when France turned on Spain, previously its ally. The war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, and is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare.

Revolt in San Salvador

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History of El Salvador
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The insurrectionists organized themselves along with prominent middle-class supporters of the cause of independence such as doctors and priests who took part in the event. These included doctors such as Santiago José Celis, the brothers (Nicholas, Vicente and Manuel Aguilar) and the priest José Matías Delgado. Others included Manuel José Arce, Juan Manuel Rodríguez and Pedro Pablo Castillo.

Santiago José Celis was a Salvadoran physician who participated in the 1811 Independence Movement.

José Matías Delgado y León was a Salvadoran priest and doctor known as El Padre de la Patria Salvadoreña. He was a leader in the independence movement of El Salvador from the Spanish Empire, and from November 28, 1821 to February 9, 1823 when he was president of the Central American constituent congress which met in Guatemala City.

Manuel José Arce President of the Federal Republic of Central America

General Manuel José Arce y Fagoaga was a decorated General and president of the Federal Republic of Central America from 1825 to 1829, followed by Francisco Morazán.

The rebels assembled in this town square by the then St. Dominic Church. Catedral de San Salvador.jpg
The rebels assembled in this town square by the then St. Dominic Church.

On November 5 the revolt began in San Salvador. According to tradition, the rebels waited for a signal from the bell tower of the Church of La Merced, but this did not occur on the scheduled time. The rebels later assembled on the town square outside the church where Manuel José Arce proclaimed in front of the public: "There is no King, nor Intendant, nor Captain General. We only must obey our alcaldes ," meaning that since Ferdinand VII had been deposed, all other officials appointed by him no longer legitimately held power. A tumult in the square grew to the point that the intendant, Antonio Gutierrez y Ulloa, asked that the gathered name somebody to formally receive their demands. Manuel José Arce himself was chosen and selected as the leader by the crowd. Despite this, the insurrectionists took arms and proclaimed the total independence of San Salvador from the Spanish crown, but were later subdued.

Alcalde, or Alcalde ordinario, is the traditional Spanish municipal magistrate, who had both judicial and administrative functions. An alcalde was, in the absence of a corregidor, the presiding officer of the Castilian cabildo and judge of first instance of a town. Alcaldes were elected annually, without the right to reelection for two or three years, by the regidores of the municipal council. The office of the alcalde was signified by a staff of office, which they were to take with them when doing their business. A woman who holds the office is termed an Alcaldesa.

In the following days, the independence movement extended to the cities of Santiago Nonualco, Usulután, Chalatenango, Santa Ana, Tejutla and Cojutepeque. The two other notable revolts occurred on November 24 in the city of Metapán and on December 20 in Sensuntepeque.

Usulután Municipality in Usulután Department, El Salvador

Usulután is the fifth largest city in El Salvador, and capital of the Usulután Department in the south-east of El Salvador.

Chalatenango, Chalatenango Municipality in Chalatenango Department, El Salvador

Chalatenango is a town and municipality in the Chalatenango department of El Salvador. It is the capital of the department.

Santa Ana, El Salvador Place in El Salvador

Santa Ana is the third largest city in El Salvador, after San Salvador and San Miguel. It is located 64 kilometers northwest of San Salvador, the capital city. Santa Ana has approximately 374,830 (2017)) inhabitants and serves both as the capital of the department of Santa Ana and as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name. For its administration the municipality is divided into 35 colonias (neighborhoods) and 318 small villages.

Suppression and aftermath

Despite the efforts of the insurrectionists, the cause of independence was not shared by the city councils of the Intendancy . Neither San Miguel, nor San Vicente nor Santa Ana joined them. Unable to amass support, the rebels decided to negotiate with a delegation sent in from the Guatemalan capital to take control. The new Intendant Colonel Jose de Aycinena, arrived on December 8 with Guatemalan troops and priests to force them to swear obedience to the crown and reclaimed the city. The new government was well received by the majority of the population due to Aycinena's policy of understanding and nonconfrontation. However, several days later, unrest broke out in the neighboring Intendancy of Nicaragua, where uprisings broke out in León on December 13 and later in Granada on December 22. Nevertheless, both were soon suppressed.

Many of those involved in the events in El Salvador and Nicaragua were incarcerated, but José Matías Delgado was taken back with the delegation to Guatemala City. Despite his past activities, or perhaps because of them, Delgado was elected in 1813 as a representative on the Provincial Deputation of Guatemala created by the Spanish Constitution of 1812. He also became director of the Tridentino Seminary in the capital city, therefore, he was not in El Salvador at the time of the second insurrection in 1814, and so did not take part in it.

He was once again elected provincial deputy in 1820 when the Spanish Constitution was restored, and on September 15, 1821, he was among those who signed the Act of Independence of Central America in Guatemala City. On November 28, 1821, he became political chief (jefe pólitico civil) of the Province of San Salvador, and as its executive officer, he led its separation from Guatemala to prevent the former intendancy from becoming part of First Mexican Empire. Arce later became president of the Federal Republic of Central America from 1825 to 1829, once full independence from both Spain and Mexico became a reality.

In El Salvador the independence movement and 1811 Revolt is officially commemorated every year on November 5 and recognized as the "First Shout for the Independence of Central America".

See also

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