Chances are that if you asked the question, “Where and when did the American Revolution take place?” Most probably, the answer you’d get would be “the U.S. in 1775-1783”.

However, the correct answer will surprise you. That is, some folks would ask a follow-up question: “Which one?” Quite so, there were a number of independence movements, each qualifying as an American Revolution, since all took place in America.

Oddly, mainstream U.S. history implies that the U.S. War of independence was a single event. That viewpoint also suggests that the ill-trained, poorly equipped English-descent colonists were the only people in America to single-handedly fight off European royal rule. However, is that true? The answer is No.

Basically, the English-descent colonists had lots of help.Remarkably, it was a collaborative diverse alliance that also included Spanish and New Spain (Mexico) troops, massive Spanish financial backing, the French, and Native American allies. Ironically, the colonists were seeking independence from the English King, but the Spanish and French Kings made it happen. Incredible, but true!

Equally important, today’s intolerant politicians want to deny Black people their role in helping build this country. Yet, Crispus Attucks, the first American patriot to die for U.S. independence was of African descent. (He was also part Native American; killed at the Boston Massacre.) In short, diversity got it done.

Sadly, school curricula takes a predominant Anglo Saxon-slanted viewpoint and cancels (marginalizes) all other groups’ contributions in winning U.S. independence. That’s why, with ample encouragement from Anglo Saxon-descent citizens, minorities are now fighting for honest inclusion in mainstream U.S. history.

As for the rest of America, non-English descent Americans also initiated grass-roots movements toward independence, shedding much blood and treasure. That is to say, they were inspired by the same great liberty influencers, John Locke, Thomas Hobbs, and Jean-Jacques Thoreau. (Their works prompted the English colonists to write the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.)

As mentioned in the opening paragraph above, why do most people in U.S. mainstream society believe that the U.S. revolution is the only “American” revolution? The answer is that during its early years after independence from England, the U.S. presumed they owned the entire Continent of America. Thus, they:

(a) Began to flex their muscle and seized the term “America” for itself and “Americans” for its citizens;

(b) Claimed they had thrown off the shackles of European tyranny, while at the same proceeded to become a domineering colonial-type force in America; and

(c) Did so through a debatable document called the Monroe Doctrine. Expectedly, the other American countries rejected that condescending “big brother” mentality.  

As such, there were many revolutions; some were bloody, some were not. The following briefly describes only five of them. (Note: This summary only deals with the initial independence from European rule and doesn’t cover later conflicts within each country):

• Venezuelan Independence, 1811 (first Spanish colony in America to achieve independence). The event is known as el cinco de Julio (the fifth of July). On that day, the Venezuelan Congress complained that Spain (a small European nation) shouldn’t be allowed to rule the vast expanse of America. Thus, Venezuela declared itself independent by proclaiming that the Venezuelan people must rule themselves.

• Bolivian Independence, 1809-1825. Due primarily to political instability in Spain (the Peninsular War), the future of the Bolivian territory was equally uncertain. Throughout a sixteen-year period, guerilla groups finally prevailed. In 1824, an army of nearly 6,000 local troops defeated Spain’s royalist forces. The final declaration of independence was signed on August 6, 1825. Interestingly, the country is named after Venezuela-born Simón Bolívar (pictured above), who began advocating for independence in 1808.      

• Mexican Independence, 1810-1821. This historic independence movement (el diezyseis) is greatly celebrated in the U.S. as it is in Mexico. Why? Two reasons. First, during those years, Mexico’s territory included almost half of today’s U.S. (the entire Southwest). And second, the region has retained its vibrant Spanish Mexican-inspired ambience. For the record, Mexico’s independence struggle was not a single battle, but rather took over eleven years to accomplish. Sadly, the conflict between Mexico and Spain was most violent, leading to the death on both sides of over half-a-million people.

– Incidentally, what is the biggest difference between Mexico’s independence and U.S. Independence? Answer: equality for Mexico’s indigenous population was central to Padre Hidalgo’s “Grito” on September 16, 1810. The document also included freedom for African-descent slaves (Mexico abolished slavery in 1829).

– In comparison, the thought of independence in the U.S. in 1776 applied only to white European-descent citizens. That is, freedom for Native Americans, African-descent people, women, and other minorities occurred much later.

• Brazilian Independence (from Portugal), 1822-1824. This independence revolt is also known as the Seventh of September (Sete de Setembro in Portuguese). On this day, Brazilians secured independence from the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarve. As with the other independence movements, the entire process took over three years. While the exact number of casualties is not known, it’s estimated that the conflict caused over 6,000 deaths.

• Canadian Independence, 1867. Discussion to unite English and former New France provinces north of the U.S. were started in the early 1800s. As a result of several British North American Acts, Britain finally granted Canada’s independence on July 1, 1867.

As I have discussed in previous similar articles, the question is, who is an American? In reality there are over 50 nations in America. In other words, anyone born or living from Northern Canada to the tip of Tierra del Fuego in Chile and Argentina lives in America and is an American. Said another way, Canadians are also Americans, as are Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Columbians, Venezuelans, and many others.

As proof, we can use the European model as an example. Europe’s diverse countries may cherish their national identity (Spanish, English, German, French, Italian, etc.), but they also consider themselves European. The same can be said for countries in Asia, Africa, etc.

Rest assured that this article doesnot seek to diminish the many positive U.S. accomplishments, nor its role as an independence leader in America. Its only aim is to give daylight to the role of minorities in securing U.S. independence, and recognize many American countries who likewise sought self-rule.

Lastly, minority groups in the U.S. seeking to change how they are portrayed in history books, movies, and other media is not culture war. Rather, it’s the road to respectability. It is further proof that today, “We the People” does include all U.S. citizens, regardless of race, creed, or national origin.

Contrary to common belief in a segment of U.S. society, minority citizens don’t want to change our nation or its traditions. They just want to be part of it and continue contributing to its well-being, just as minorities have done from the very beginning.

Lest we forget, only when mainstream U.S. society rids itself of its collective fear of others and stereotyping of minority group members, will they ever accept historical truth. In the words of Winston Churchill, “Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common… Celebrate it every day.”

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Rio Grande Guardian columnist, historian and author José Antonio López. López can be reached by email via: [email protected]

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