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Pan-Americanism

In the Nineteenth Century

The struggle for independence after 1810 among the Latin American nations evoked a sense of unity, especially in South America where, under Simón Bolívar in the north and José de San Martín in the south, there were cooperative efforts. Francisco Morazán briefly headed a Central American Federation. The United States was looked upon as a model, and recognition of the new republics was a part of U.S. foreign policy. Henry Clay and Thomas Jefferson set forth the principles of Pan-Americanism in the early 1800s, and soon afterward the United States declared through the Monroe Doctrine a new policy with regard to interference by European nations in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere. Initially welcomed, despite establishing U.S. hegemony, the doctrine later was seen by many Latin American nations as a mask for U.S. imperialistic ambitions.

In the 19th cent., Latin American military nationalism came to the fore. Venezuela and Ecuador withdrew (1830) from Greater Colombia; the Central American Federation collapsed (1838); Argentina and Brazil fought continually over Uruguay, and then all three combined in the War of the Triple Alliance (1865–70) to defeat Paraguay; and in the War of the Pacific (1879–83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia. However, during this same period Pan-Americanism existed in the form of a series of Inter-American Conferences—Panama (1826), Lima (1847), Santiago (1856), and Lima (1864). The main object of those meetings was to provide for a common defense. The first of the modern Pan-American Conferences was held (1889–90) in Washington, D.C., with all nations represented except the Dominican Republic. Treaties for arbitration of disputes and adjustment of tariffs were adopted, and the Commercial Bureau of the American Republics, which became the Pan-American Union, was established. Subsequent meetings were held in various Latin American cities.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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