Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in History

First Advisor

Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez

Second Advisor

Marc Lerner

Third Advisor

Theresa Levitt


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Spanish Americans were immersed in a practical Enlightenment that aimed to improve society during the Age of Revolution (1780-1850). In the city of Santafé de Bogotá, elites comprised of Spaniards and creoles (Spaniards born in the Americas) joined in scientific expeditions, higher education, creating newspapers, and proposing economic and educational reforms that all promised to bring prosperity to the Viceroyalty of New Granada (present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama). Rather than a source of major confrontation, elites’ activities aligned with the Spanish Crown’s interest in turning its American kingdoms into centers of wealth. Strong ties developed between local elites of Santafé and the crown that contributed to a slow transformation of Spanish American society. A rich political culture developed around creole participation as both the crown and local groups sought to curry favor with one another. Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and the abdication of the Spanish monarchs in early 1808 plunged the empire into chaos. News of the events started to reach the Americas in as early as the summer of 1808, but the response to the news was truly revolutionary. In Santafé, as well as across the empire, reactions focused on reforming the empire not only to counter French aggression, but to safeguard against the political and economic vulnerabilities exposed by the imperial crisis. The rich bonds that elites formed with each other in the late colonial period continued to play a powerful role as they navigated and experimented with how best to maintain order in the face of an unprecedented event.



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