It is more difficult to get a people out of the servitude than to subjugate a free one Bolivar said in the Letter of Jamaica of 1815, referring to those words written by the French philosopher and jurist, Montesquieu. That letter, in which the Liberator made a strong call to the struggle for independence and justified, in addition, the Creole rebellion against the Spanish Crown, was a conversation between the ideals of Bolivar and those readings he had made during all his life.
From the letter came a shout that sought to be heard by other countries to make them understand the importance of the emancipation of the American people, but there was also a parallel between that French philosopher of the eighteenth century, who believed in freedom as the basis of any political attempt , and that Caracas fighter, who saw in her the basis of the future of the American nations. Freedom, that concrete and abstract word at the same time, brought together two distant men both in time and space.
Thus, the French thinker’s style, his strong criticism of the French monarchs, his humor and courage, conquered Bolivar’s taste. And as De Lacroix said, referring to the literary taste of the Liberator: “Voltaire is his favorite author, and he has in his memory many passages of works, both in prose and in verse.” Through his constant reading, Bolivar also knew John Locke, who seduced him with his novel approaches to human experience, his capacity for reflection, and, above all, to the idea that happiness is the highest goal of the human being.
Bolívar was a regular reader, and a constant writer. The lyrics accompanied him in his constant displacements and were also his greatest motivation in his spare time. For that reason, Zapata dares to say that, “he was not a writer by trade, but he was a genius. His letters attest to it, where he touches the fretboard of affections, from the placid friendship to the fiery hatred, to the Solomonic sadness; his proclamations, brilliant of epic poetry, his speeches, persuasive; his documents, often of an admirable harmony between the sobriety of style and mental altitude ”.
Bolivar himself, when he was already president, was outraged when he was accused of lacking education, and in a heartfelt, sincere and revealing letter, he let Santander know that “I certainly did not learn Aristotle’s philosophy, nor the codes of crime and the error; but it may be that Mollien (A well-known French traveler from both Santander and Bolivar) has not studied Locke, Condillac, Buffon, D’Allambert, Helvétius, Montesquieu, Malby, Filangieri, Lalande, Rousseau, Rollin, Berthollet and all the classics of antiquity. ”
Literature connected Bolívar and Santander. Although they saw in practice the true conquest of freedom, they had been nourished by their multiple readings, their deepest ideals. Although many aspects differentiated them, they had in the literature certain meeting points, such as the deep admiration of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham. And so, also freedom, happiness, autonomy, and independence were words that constantly reread in his books and for which they fought with an unwavering conviction until the end of their lives.