On Wednesday, Canning House was packed with a really-diverse selection of people to discuss Britain's historic relationships with Colombia and Venezuela (and to a lesser extent, Ecuador). Students, lawyers, diplomats, teachers, filmmakers, politicians, pharmacognocists, economists, paper-makers, archaeologists, media people, engineers, builders and historians all came together to discuss this subject that remains so captivating in a historical sense, and so compellingly contemporary when he think about how it might be remembered and commemorated today.
Thank you to everyone who came and contributed to the debate. We are currently editing the video-footage and transcribing the audio-recordings. I will post those here as soon as they are ready. At the end of our session I declared that I would write up the many suggestions into an Open Letter to the newly-appointed Minister of State responsible for Britain's relations with Latin America, Hugo Swire MP. I'm working on a draft, and will post that here, too.
The first session had four papers. I spoke a little about new directions in research on the subject: I'll upload my paper as a separate blog post soon. There were three other, excellent papers. The abstracts are posted below as an appetite-whetter before I post the discussions later.
In sum: this event has reinforced my belief in the value of Universities engaging with the general public and civil society. As ever at these kind of events, new questions were asked, and new ideas put forward, which simply wouldn't have happened stuck away in my ivory tower. It wouldn't have happened without the hard work of everyone at Canning House and the University of Bristol who worked on the project. I look forward to pulling those ideas together over the next week or so, and getting stuck into the next phase of this project: turning some of the ideas into reality!
[Dr. John Hughes, former British Ambassador to Venezuela, welcoming everyone to Canning House]
[Speakers in the first session, 5/9/2012: Gutierrez Ardila, Mondolfi Gudat, Racine, Brown]
The three main papers in the first session were:
Spanish Americans in London in the Independence-Era
Karen Racine (University of Guelph)
Abstract: Although the French and American Revolutions are reflexively assumed to be the inspiration for Spanish American independence movements, a stronger case can be made for the argument that the region’s patriot leaders derived their most important cultural model, their animating energy, and their major material support from Great Britain. Between the years 1808-1830, over seventy independence-era leaders of the first rank lived and worked together in London, including: Francisco de Miranda, Bernardo O’Higgins, Simón Bolívar, Andrés Bello, José de San Martín, Fray Servando Teresa de Mier, Lucas Alamán, Agustín de Iturbide, Bernardino Rivadavia, Manuel Belgrano, Vicente Rocafuerte, Juan Germán Roscio, Mariano Montilla, Francisco de Paula Santander, Antonio José de Irisarri, youthful members of the Aycinena and García Granados families of Guatemala, José de la Riva Agüero, Bernardo Monteagudo, José Joaquín de Olmedo, and Mariano Egaña. Other important patriot leaders, including José Cecilio del Valle, Juan Egaña and Carlos María Bustamante remained in America but sent their works to be published in London and carried on a purposeful correspondence with famous British figures such as abolitionist William Wilberforce, prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, utilitarian philosophers Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, scientist Humphrey Davy and vaccination proponent Edward Jenner. These conscious, practical, personal choices tell us much about the kind of cultural model the Spanish American independence leaders admired, and the sorts of future countries they wanted to cultivate for themselves.
Leandro Miranda: publicista y diplomático (1824-1832)
Daniel Gutierrez Ardila (Universidad Externado de Colombia)
Abstract:Uno de los hijos del revolucionario Francisco de Miranda sirvió a la República de Colombia como periodista y diplomático. En tanto que publicista, fundó y aseguró durante tres años (1824-1827) la edición de El Constitucional, uno de los mejores semanarios de su tiempo. Posteriormente, entre el mes de septiembre de 1830 y los primeros días de 1832, Leandro Miranda se desempeñó como representante del gobierno colombiano en Londres. Su misión coincidió con los estertores y la desagregación de la república, por lo que puede decirse que le cupo en suerte encarnar una entidad política moribunda. Como la misión se desarrolló también en medio de la coyuntura revolucionaria que sacudió entonces a Europa y puso fin al período de las Restauraciones, Miranda se encontró en la paradójica posición de un diplomático republicano que presenciaba al mismo tiempo el fin de la Santa Alianza y el de su propio país. Las páginas siguientes se ocupan de analizar estas dos facetas de la vida pública de Leandro Miranda con relación a la República de Colombia, esforzándose por establecer vínculos que permitan comprender mejor la agonía y la muerte de dicho Estado.
NE EXEUNT REGNO (“No one is entitled to leave the realm”): Some observations regarding the “Enlistment Act” of 1819 passed by Parliament in order to avoid the recruitment of British volunteers to the Spanish Main
Edgardo Mondolfi Gudat (Universidad Metropolitana de Caracas)
Abstract: What did the “Enlistment Act” of 1819 mean in order to restrain the flow of British volunteers to Spanish America? In view of the number of recruits that were able to cross the Atlantic since late 1817, would such provision have any effect at all? Would it be truly binding or on the contrary, as some Historians argue, it consisted on a “vague”, “late” and “toothless” piece of legislation promoted by the British Government? In practical terms, was such Law able to impose effective restrains on British subjects willing to join forces with the Spanish American Insurgents?
These are the kind of questions posed by this Paper which aims to explore what the clandestine passage overseas meant in view of the existing writ known traditionally as “Ne exeunt regno”. According to such writ, no man was in liberty to put to sea at his pleasure against the King´s Charters, much less if the aim was to participate in an irregular warfare which was taking place in the dominions of an allied nation as Spain was still meant to be well beyond the downfall of Napoleon in 1815.
So far as such recruitment was being implemented in British soil, the Enlistment Act must be seen, without doubt, as an additional effort by the British Government to avoid further breaches of its alliance with Ferdinand VII’s regime.
However, the stretch imposed by the ancient Laws of the Realm was the occasion for repeated demands by some members of the House of Commons to repeal Lord Liverpool’s intention to reinforce such a writ by passing a Bill known as the “Enlistment Act” aimed at putting an end to the clandestine recruitment of British subjects bound for South America.
The second session was a round-table: I'll publish transcripts of the great ideas advanced there soon, plus more pictures.