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The Liberal "Reform" in New Granada/Colombia. David Bushnell & Neill MacAuley

The Liberal "Reform" in New Granada/Colombia. David Bushnell & Neill MacAuley

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The victorious Liberals capped off their handiwork by adopting still another national constitution in 1863, which, however, lasted a good twenty-two years. One of its less controversial features was the formal restoration of the name Colombia to what since the breakup of Gran Colombia in 1830 had been officially calling itself New Granada. To be exact, the new title was United States of Colombia, for the federalism enshrined in the 1858 constitution was retained and in fact carried to even greater extremes, just as in almost every respect the Colombian Constitution of 1863 represents the most advanced form of liberalism that any Latin American nation achieved (or was afflicted with) in the past century. The states not only received extensive powers in running their own affairs but were treated virtually as independent nations; they kept their own armed forces, and most came to issue their own postage stamps. The national government, on its part, was made as weak as possible, lest it be in a position to violate either state or individual rights. Thus, the president was limited to a two-year term, and he could serve again only after a two-year wait. He was to be elected on a basis of one state, one vote, with each state free to decide for itself which inhabitants should enjoy the suffrage. This in turn marked the end of Colombia’s first experiment with universal male suffrage, since roughly half the states proceeded to reinstate literacy requirements that disenfranchised the great majority. (Liberals had observed the Conservatives winning too many elections once all men were given the vote, with the result that on this issue they clearly began to have second thoughts.)

The tightening of relations with the world market that began with the tobacco boom of the 1850s meanwhile continued. Exports per capita, which had been declining before 1850, increased one hundred twenty percent from 1850 to 1882. Sales of tobacco eventually fell off, but a succession of other commodities—cotton, quinine, coffee—offset the decline. In each case except coffee, of which Colombia was just beginning to be a serious exporter, the pattern was one of a brief speculative frenzy followed by loss of markets as Colombian producers proved unable to match the prices or quality of other exporting countries. Yet any given export boom, while it lasted, brought benefits not just to merchants and landowners but also to workers and suppliers. With perhaps some exaggeration, it was claimed that peasants attracted by high wages to the tobacco fields were eating meat for the first time in their lives.
The victorious Liberals capped off their handiwork by adopting still another national constitution in 1863, which, however, lasted a good twenty-two years. One of its less controversial features was the formal restoration of the name Colombia to what since the breakup of Gran Colombia in 1830 had been officially calling itself New Granada. To be exact, the new title was United States of Colombia, for the federalism enshrined in the 1858 constitution was retained and in fact carried to even greater extremes, just as in almost every respect the Colombian Constitution of 1863 represents the most advanced form of liberalism that any Latin American nation achieved (or was afflicted with) in the past century. The states not only received extensive powers in running their own affairs but were treated virtually as independent nations; they kept their own armed forces, and most came to issue their own postage stamps. The national government, on its part, was made as weak as possible, lest it be in a position to violate either state or individual rights. Thus, the president was limited to a two-year term, and he could serve again only after a two-year wait. He was to be elected on a basis of one state, one vote, with each state free to decide for itself which inhabitants should enjoy the suffrage. This in turn marked the end of Colombia’s first experiment with universal male suffrage, since roughly half the states proceeded to reinstate literacy requirements that disenfranchised the great majority. (Liberals had observed the Conservatives winning too many elections once all men were given the vote, with the result that on this issue they clearly began to have second thoughts.)

The tightening of relations with the world market that began with the tobacco boom of the 1850s meanwhile continued. Exports per capita, which had been declining before 1850, increased one hundred twenty percent from 1850 to 1882. Sales of tobacco eventually fell off, but a succession of other commodities—cotton, quinine, coffee—offset the decline. In each case except coffee, of which Colombia was just beginning to be a serious exporter, the pattern was one of a brief speculative frenzy followed by loss of markets as Colombian producers proved unable to match the prices or quality of other exporting countries. Yet any given export boom, while it lasted, brought benefits not just to merchants and landowners but also to workers and suppliers. With perhaps some exaggeration, it was claimed that peasants attracted by high wages to the tobacco fields were eating meat for the first time in their lives.

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The Emergencof Latin Americin the Nineteenth Centur
DAVID BUSHNELL
University of Florida 
NEILL MACAULA
University of Florid
New York 
^
Oxford 
 
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
 
1988
 
Oxford New York TorontoDelhi Bombay Calcutta Madras KarachiPetaling Jaya Singapore Hong Kong Tokyor^iairobi Dar es Salaam Cape TownMelbourne Aucklandand associated companies inBeirut Berlin Ibadan Nicosia
Copyright © 1988 by Oxford University Press, Inc.
Published by Oxford University Press, Inc.,200 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016Oxford is a registered trademark of Oxford University PressAll rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means,electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,without the prior permission of Oxford University Press.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataBushnell, David, 1923-The emergence of Latin America in the nineteenthcentury.Bibliography: p. Includes index.1. Latin America—History—1830-1898. 2. LatinAmerica—History—Wars of Independence, 1806-1830.3. Liberalism—Latin America—19th century.I. Macaulay, Neill. II. Title.F1413.B88 1988 980'.031 87-25323ISBN 0-19-504463-0ISBN 0-19-504464-9 (pbk.)
Oxford University Press
10 987654321Printed in the United States of America
 
To Ginnie and Nancy, our spouses, who are always de facto coauthors; to our students, onwhom many of these ideas were first tried out;and to the people of Latin America, who havemade the study of their history a pleasure as wellas a challenge.

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