Compare and contrast The Declaration of Independence and Simon Bolivar's "Jamaica Letter."

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pohnpei397's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #1)

The most obvious similarity between these two documents is that both argue for the independence of American territories that are the colonies of European powers.  They both do so in similar terms.  Both documents argue that there is a need for government to be based on the consent of the people who are governed.  Both documents argue that the colonial powers have oppressed the colonies.

The major difference between them is that Bolivar is less determined to set up a democratic system once independence is gained.  Bolivar does not believe that it is possible for South American colonies to become a republic right away.  Instead, he believes that it will be necessary to have a "paternal" (by which he means dictatorial) form of government until they are ready to rule themselves.  It is hard to imagine Jefferson making a similar argument in the Declaration of Independence.

thetall's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #2)

In the “Jamaica Letter” Bolivar is pushing for independence for not only his country but all of South America. This is similar to the American Declaration, the purpose of which was to communicate America’s decision to push for independence from the British. Bolivar also states that it is important for governments to be established with the consent of the governed. This is similar to what America’s Founding Fathers stated in the Declaration. This point was used to suggest the illegitimacy of the governments instituted by the colonialists in the cases of America and Venezuela, Bolivar's home country. The two documents also speak against oppression from colonial powers.

The major difference between the two is that Bolivar in his letter is not confident about countries in Latin America being organized as republics immediately after independence. He instead suggests a dictatorship at first before full freedom in the future. The Declaration, in contrast, sought to establish a self governed republic.


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