Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • We begin in 1763.

  • Almost the entire American continent is dominated by the European colonial powers.

  • Spain has a very large territory.

  • In the south, the Portuguese control Brazil.

  • On the Central American islands, mainly France and Great Britain develop huge sugar cane

  • and coffee plantations by importing slaves from Africa.

  • Finally, the North is largely under the control of Great Britain after its victory

  • in the Seven Years' War.

  • The British dominate all their rivals, notably thanks to the powerful Royal Navy.

  • But the war has taken its toll on the country's finances, and to replenish its coffers,

  • it imposes new taxes on its colonies.

  • Thirteen of them are opposed to this and tensions rise, finally provoking the American Revolutionary War.

  • France, Spain and the United Provinces take advantage of the situation to ally themselves

  • with the independence fighters in order to weaken Great Britain.

  • Finally, the British are defeated and forced to recognize

  • the independence of the United States of America,

  • which is the first European colony to become independent.

  • From the very first years, the United States colonists have been extending their possessions westward

  • to the detriment of the indigenous populations, which provokes numerous internal wars.

  • In France, after the Seven Years' War and the American Revolutionary War,

  • the economic situation is catastrophic, which contributes to the outbreak of the French Revolution.

  • The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is proclaimed.

  • It states that "Men are born and remain free and equal in rights".

  • In the rich colony of Saint-Domingue, these words provoke a slave and freedmen revolt

  • against the great landlords, also called the Planters.

  • Spain and Great Britain join forces to fight the insurgents.

  • But the insurgents win and occupy the whole island.

  • Napoleon Bonaparte, who has seized power in France, understands that it would be difficult

  • to reassert his sovereignty over his distant territories.

  • He sends an army to Saint-Domingue and decides to sell Louisiana which he secretely obtained from Spain

  • three years earlier to the United States.

  • In Saint-Domingue, the French soldiers, weakened by disease, are defeated.

  • On January 1, 1804, the independence of Haiti is proclaimed.

  • It is the only republic born from a revolution of slaves and freedmen.

  • In Europe, the United Kingdom inflicts a heavy defeat on the Spanish and French fleets

  • at the Battle of Trafalgar.

  • The country confirms its domination of the seas.

  • But Napoleon, who dominates Europe, opts for economic warfare and imposes a continental blockade.

  • The United Kingdom, in the midst of the industrial revolution,

  • absolutely needs to find new markets to sell its goods.

  • Taking advantage of the decline of Spain, it turns to America,

  • but Spain officially prohibited trade with the British.

  • The United Kingdom attempts two military incursions into the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata,

  • but is repelled by the Creoles, the descendants of Spanish settlers born in America.

  • In Spain, King Charles IV and his son Ferdinand VII are quarrelling over the throne.

  • Napoleon takes advantage of this and places his brother Joseph at the head of the country.

  • This is not accepted in the Spanish colonies where juntas, which means local governments,

  • favorable to King Ferdinand VII, are organized.

  • Conflicts appear everywhere.

  • In New Spain, the priest Miguel Hidalgo calls on the people to rise up.

  • Independence movements now appear, secretly supported by the British

  • and motivated by revolutionary Masonic lodges.

  • In 1814, after the abdication of Napoleon, Ferdinand VII recovers the Spanish throne

  • and quickly sends reinforcements to America to regain control.

  • Paraguay manages to resist, as well as the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata,

  • which proclaims its independence.

  • In January 1817, the separatists San Martín and O'Higgins

  • cross the Andes from the east with an army and seize Santiago.

  • O'Higgins is appointed Supreme director and proclaims Chilean independence.

  • In the north, another independence army led by Simon Bolivar

  • and reinforced by the British Legion leaves Angostura, crosses the Andes,

  • and defeats the Spaniards at the gates of Santa Fe de Bogotá.

  • Bolivar then proclaims the independence of Gran Colombia, of which he becomes president,

  • although he doesn't yet control the entire territory.

  • In reaction, Ferdinand VII raises a new army, but the latter revolts and refuses to leave Cadiz.

  • Taking advantage of the situation, San Martin lands in Peru, seizes Lima,

  • and proclaims the country's independence, although the Amazonian territory is still controlled by the royalists.

  • In New Spain, after 11 years of war, the independents win and proclaim the Mexican Empire.

  • In the south, Quito is liberated by the independence armies.

  • Bolivar and San Martín then meet in Guayaquil.

  • Nobody knows what they say to each other, but San Martin gives up part of his army

  • to Bolivar and then discreetly withdraws.

  • In Brazil, the Portuguese royal family and its court have been installed

  • in Rio de Janeiro since the invasion of Portugal by Napoleon.

  • Despite the liberation of the country in 1811, the royal family decided to stay in Brazil.

  • However, the difficult political situation in Portugal forces King John VI

  • to return to the country in a hurry.

  • But his heir, son Peter, who remained in Brazil,

  • now enters into conflict with the Portuguese government and proclaims the independence of Brazil,

  • of which he becomes Emperor.

  • In Central America, Mexico struggles to consolidate.

  • The south secedes and the United Provinces of Central America is proclaimed.

  • Throughout the continent, instability is great, which worries the United States.

  • President James Monroe then declares to the Europeans that the United States

  • would no longer accept new attempts at colonization on the American continent.

  • In the south, the last royalist pockets are defeated by the army of General Sucre.

  • Bolivia is created, named after Simon Bolivar.

  • The latter now dreams of uniting all the American republics under a great common authority.

  • But internal divisions cause this project to fail.

  • In the south of the continent, a war breaks out

  • between the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata and Brazil for the control of the Cisplatine Province.

  • Brazil imposes a commercial blockade on the ports of Buenos Aires and Montevideo,

  • but its armies fail to prevail on land.

  • Unable to neutralize each other and financially exhausted, both appeal to the United Kingdom for arbitration.

  • The British, during the peace treaty, obtain the creation of Uruguay as a buffer state.

  • The United Kingdom, by becoming the guarantor of stability in the region, protects its commercial interests.

  • At the end of 1829, Venezuela secedes from Gran Colombia.

  • Bolivar, whose health is deteriorating, fails to find a solution and resigns.

  • Gran Colombia breaks up and immediately conflicts arise over the delimitation of the new borders.

  • In Mexico, after the abolition of slavery, the United States colonists,

  • who are in the majority in Texas, rebel.

  • A civil war breaks out and leads to the proclamation of independence of the Republic of Texas,

  • recognized by the United States.

  • In the United Provinces of Central America, unity is also undermined

  • and the five states that make it up declare independence.

  • Finally, in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, which has been occupied since 1822, also obtains its independence.

  • In 1845, the United States, which wants to expand westward, annexes Texas.

  • But a border disagreement with Mexico provokes a war.

  • At the same time, the British and the United States agree on sharing the Oregon Country

  • that was joint controlled.

  • In 1848, after the victory of the United States,

  • Mexico is forced to recognize the annexation of Texas and gives up a huge territory.

  • In California, the discovery of gold causes a rush

  • that attracts people from all over the world, including Asia.

  • In the far north of the continent, the Russian Empire,

  • in fear of losing Alaska to their rival the British,

  • chooses to sell its territory to the United States.

  • In the same year, the United Kingdom authorizes the union of three provinces in the north

  • to ensure their protection from the United States, which seems to want to expand.

  • They form the Dominion of Canada, which gains more autonomy

  • and will over the next years integrate the neighbouring British colonies.

  • Due to border disputes, Paraguay has been at war for two years

  • with the Triple Alliance of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.

  • In 1870, Paraguay is occupied, whereupon a large part of its territory is amputated,

  • leaving a deeply devastated country.

  • Further west, tensions also rise between Chile and Bolivia over a territory rich in mineral deposits.

  • When Bolivia increases taxes on Chilean companies present in the region,

  • Chile decides to occupy the port of Antofagasta to control exports.

  • War breaks out, involving Peru, which is allied with Bolivia.

  • Chile quickly wins and extends its territory to the north, cutting off Bolivia's access to the ocean.

  • At the same time, in the south, the Mapuches, who had resisted the Inca and Spanish invasions,

  • are now invaded by Argentina and Chile who want to have access to both oceans.

  • The local populations are violently crushed.

  • In Cuba, a new independence revolt provokes a war against Spain.

  • The United States, which now wants to implement an international policy,

  • sees an opportunity to extend its influence.

  • They intervene militarily against Spain and win.

  • The independence of Cuba is confirmed and the last Spanish colonies in America

  • and the Pacific come under US control.

  • In Colombia, a French company begins the construction of a canal that will link the two oceans.

  • This interests the United States because it will considerably shorten

  • the maritime route between its two coasts.

  • The country buys the project, but the Colombian Congress opposes it.

  • Annoyed, the United States sends warships, while separatists proclaim the independence of Panama.

  • In a few days, the United States recognizes the new country.

  • In exchange, it obtains a strip of land in perpetuity

  • for the construction and operation of the Panama Canal.

  • But the Panamanians quickly contest this treaty.

  • During World War I, the European colonies are heavily involved.

  • This is particularly true of Canada, which carries out a major war effort

  • on behalf of the United Kingdom.

  • At the end of the war, Canada asks for greater autonomy.

  • In 1926, equality with the United Kingdom is proclaimed,

  • followed by its sovereignty being recognized in 1931,

  • although the country remains linked to the British crown by becoming a member of the Commonwealth.

  • In the south of the continent, conflicts persist over the delimitation of borders.

  • In 1932, Bolivia and Paraguay go to war over control of the Chaco,

  • a region where oil has just been discovered and which offers access to the Atlantic Ocean via the Paraguay River.

  • Paraguay wins and takes 75% of the territory.

  • Peru and Ecuador also dispute their border.

  • A new war breaks out in 1941 and turns to the advantage of Peru,

  • which takes over a large part of the territory located in the Amazon.

  • At the end of World War II, the United Kingdom and France are weakened

  • while the first colonies claim their independence.