Henry Clay: Speech on South American Independence

(1820)

In Henry Clay's Speech on South American Independence, the U.S. congressman advocates for his resolution to send a diplomatic mission to South America. The Spanish American wars of independence against Spanish rule took place during the early decades of the nineteenth century, at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. French occupation of Spain began to weaken Spain's hold over its colonies, providing an opening for nationalist revolutions in the Americas. Clay proved to be a great supporter of their cause, arguing that South America's political future was of greater importance to the United States than the political future of Europe. When President James Monroe sent a special message to Congress condemning Spain for attempting to link the ceding of Florida to a declaration that the United States would abandon the right to recognize the new South American governments, Clay introduced a House resolution to send a diplomatic representative to one or more of the new South American...

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Henry Clay (Library of Congress)

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