Simon Bolivar: The Early Years

Simon Bolivar

The great liberator of the Americas, Simón Bolívar, was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Rather than lead a life of leisure, he dedicated himself to his studies.

The Great American Liberator Is Born

The great South American liberator Simón Bolívar (1783-1830) was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and was of Basque origin — ironic because this region of northern Spain is still awaiting its liberation or liberator.

Bolivar’s father, Colonel Juan Vicente Bolívar y Ponte, died in 1786 when Simón Bolívar was a few months’ shy of his third birthday, while his mother, Concepción Palacios Blanco, died in 1792.

His parents would not live long, but Simón Bolívar had been set up well from birth. The Bolivar family owned countless properties. His father’s estate, known as San Mateo and located outside of Caracas, featured not only a deluxe-model mansion but also more copper mines, farms and cattle herds than a young boy would know what to do with.

The Poor Priest Is Rich

Also, Simón Bolivar’s cousin, Juan Felix Jerez y Ariteguieta, who, although his profession as a priest would seem to scream poverty and humility, was well endowed enough to bestow a princely inheritance on the young Bolivar in 1784.

Bolivar, however, did not fat-cat his way through life.

The Right Connections and a Good Early Education Will Lead to Good Things

As a child Bolivar spent several months as a guest of pedagogue and social-reformer Simón Rodríguez (1771-1854). The two Simóns hit it off well, and Old Simón would be a strong influence on Young Simón for the rest of his life.

At the teenage-tender age of 14 Bolivar was enrolled in the same military academy that his colonel father had headed some years earlier. Young Bolivar made hay and within a year was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. There he received a combination training in military theory as well in subjects traditionally unrelated to the shedding of blood such as mathematics and physics.

It’s off to Madrid I Go for Further Education

The year 1799 found Bolivar in Madrid, where he received an education fit for an action-packed future as a mover and shaker of world events. In addition to learning mathematics, classical history, modern history and military history and the like, he was taught fencing and dancing, two skills which would undoubtedly come in handy in times of war against his enemies and when romancing his sweetie under the moon when it was dance night.

Bolivar Sniffs Love in the Air, Then Hears Wedding Bells

Bolivar became a man-about-town dandy during this time, and regularly attended parties and dances. He learned the social graces and to converse in the language of lovers known as French.

He must have been an accomplished dandier, because he soon managed to woe María Teresa Rodríguez del Toro y Alayza, with whom he returned to Venezuela after marrying her in late May, 1802.

The Icy Hand of Death Grips the Shoulder of Bolivar’s New Bride, Who Dies Less Than a Year After Their Wedding

Man’s age-old nemesis Death, however, had other plans, and Bolivar’s earthly matrimonial bliss was cut short in January, 1803, when his young wife died.