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Revolution and Republicanism in Venezuela

Don’t miss this new article by Reuben Zahler, associate professor of history, in the recent edition of the Journal of World History.

“How Civic Virtue Became Republican Honor: Revolution and Republicanism in Venezuela, 1800-1840”

As an ideology, civic virtue inspired rebellion throughout the Age of Revolution, most famously in the US and France but also in the Spanish American independence movements of the 1810-20s. Throughout the Atlantic world, however, the appeal of virtue faded, usually within a decade after the violent phase of each revolution. This article explores the rise and fall of civic virtue in Venezuela, which adopted this North Atlantic ideology but then abandoned it within a decade of achieving independence. The investigation identifies three factors that challenged the persistence of virtue as an ideology in Venezuela: the power of regionalism, the increasing allure of liberalism, and the difficulty that most people faced in acquiring virtue. In addition, the article explores how the culture of honor transformed after independence to incorporate several characteristics of virtue. While virtue disappeared from public discourse, many of its features persisted in the new honor code.

Journal of World History
University of Hawai’i Press
Volume 31, Number 2, June 2020
pp. 391-424

“A court martial convicted Leonardo Infante, a cavalry colonel, of murdering a fellow officer and sentenced him to death. The sentence came before the Supreme Court for approval, and the justices divided evenly on whether the crime warranted death. Consequently, the chief justice was obliged to cast the tie-breaking vote. Miguel Peña asserted that the death penalty required support from a majority of the justices and therefore voted against the sentence. The military judges, embarrassed and angered that a civilian court could over rule them, brought impeachment charges against Peña. The hearings went first before the House of Representatives and then to the Senate. Ultimately, both houses of Congress found Peña derelict in his duty and removed him from office.” Continue reading on Project MUSE

Professor Reuben Zahler studies Latin America during the Age of Revolution. He has published articles on the evolving political and legal culture across the long nineteenth century, as the region transformed from colonies to independent, liberal republics. His book, Ambitious Rebels: Remaking Honor, Law, and Liberalism in Venezuela, 1780–1850, focuses on Venezuelan honor and law in order to understand the complications that arise as a people, with little history of liberal institutions, attempt to adopt civil rights, capitalism, and democracy. His current project examines the lives of female criminals and these poor, mostly non-white women were repressed by that state and society as part of a larger agenda.