Political Revolutions Review for AP World History (page 3)

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 4, 2011

The South American Phase

In the northern part of South America, the Creole Simón Bolívar centered his movement for independence against Spain in Caracas. By 1822, he had liberated Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, uniting these regions into the nation he called Gran Colombia. Regional differences led to the eventual breakup of the new nation.

In the southern portion of South America, José de San Martín emerged as the independence leader from Río de la Plata (present-day Argentina). Río de la Plata declared its independence in 1816. San Martín then crossed into Chile to assist in its liberation. By 1823, all of Spanish America had declared its independence and established republics in all the new nations except Mexico. Independence, however, did not bring prosperity to Latin America, as Bolívar had hoped.

Independence in Brazil

The Portuguese colony of Brazil followed a pattern for independence different from that of the other Latin American countries. In 1807, when the French invaded Portugal, the Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil. The colony of Brazil acquired a status equal to that of Portugal. When Napoleon was defeated, the Portuguese king was recalled and left his son Dom Pedro regent in Brazil.

In 1822, Dom Pedro declared Brazil independent after realizing that Brazil was about to lose its representative in the Portuguese parliament. Unlike the other Latin American nations, Brazil did not have to endure a prolonged independence movement. Brazil became a monarchy, and the institution of slavery was left untouched in the newly independent country.

Revolution in Qing China

The Manchus who entered China as the Qing dynasty in 1644 had been exposed to Chinese culture as a result of years spent living along the northern Chinese border. The Qing continued Chinese traditions such as the civil service examination and patriarchal family structure. Female infanticide increased. Women were confined to traditional household duties, while women from peasant families also worked in the fields or in village marketplaces. The Manchus required Chinese men to distinguish themselves from them by wearing a queu, or braided ponytail.

Although the Qing attempted to control the consolidation of large tracts of land, they had little success. The gap between rural peasants and rural gentry increased. Some men of the gentry began to let their fingernails grow extremely long to indicate that they did not have to do any physical labor.

By the end of the eighteenth century, the Qing dynasty was in decline. The civil service examination had often given way to obtaining governmental posts through bribery. Dams, dikes, and irrigation systems were in disrepair. Highway bandits were a problem in some areas of China. The importation of opium (see Chapter 22) caused conflicts with Great Britain.

The increased influence of foreign powers on Chinese society and China's defeat in the Opium War produced widespread rebellion in south China in the 1850s and early 1860s. This rebellion resulted from the inability of the Qing to repel foreign influence in China. The Taiping Rebellion advocated programs of social reform, more privileges for women, and land redistribution. When the scholar-gentry realized that the rebellion was reaching to the heart of Chinese tradition, it rallied and ended the rebellion.

Later Qing officials attempted to spare the Chinese economy by carrying out a self-strengthening movement that encouraged Western investments in factories and railroads and modernized the Chinese army. Reform movements were crushed, however, under the rule of the dowager empress Cixi. The Boxer Rebellion (1898–1901) was a revolt against foreigners that was backed by Qing rulers. The rebellion, which culminated in the execution of foreigners in China, was put down by a coalition force from Europe, the United States, and Japan.

The leaders of the movement that brought down the Qing dynasty were Westerneducated reformers who wanted to model China's government along Western lines. Sun Yatsen, one of its chief leaders, also wanted to carry out reforms to benefit peasants and workers. Although they admired some aspects of Western society, the revolutionaries wanted a China free of foreign imperialists. In 1911, opposition to Qing reliance on Western loans for railway improvements led to a final rebellion that toppled the Qing. Centuries of Chinese dynastic rule had come to an end.

Socio-Political Movements: Feminism, Marxism, and Socialism


In the eighteenth century, feminist movements began to seek political, social, and economic gains for women. Among the goals of these movements were access to higher education and the professions and the right to vote. By 1914, Scandinavian countries and some states in the United States had granted women the right to vote. Within a few years, women's suffrage had extended to all states in the United States and to Great Britain and Germany.

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