Bolivar, USA: the United States and Latin American independence

Sister republics

In the early nineteenth century, the United States turned its idealistic gaze southward, imagining a legacy of revolution and republicanism that it hoped would dominate the American hemisphere. Latin America’s independence movements were hailed as tropical reprises of 1776. Even as Latin Americans gradually ended slavery, U.S. observers remained energized by the belief that their founding ideals were triumphing over European tyranny among their “sister republics.” But as slavery became a violently divisive issue at home, goodwill toward antislavery revolutionaries waned. By the 1820s, republican efforts abroad had become a scaffold upon which many in the United States erected an ideology of white U.S. exceptionalism that would haunt the geopolitical landscape for generations.

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